Roxanne Halpine

It happened on a normal day: you slipped on the icy sidewalk
or in the bathtub, maybe roller-skating with your son. You’ve fallen
and banged your leg, hard, and later that night, alone in your room,
you watch it form: the barest hint of lavender deep beneath your skin.
By morning the bruise has blossomed, huge, a deep virulent purple
with reddish-brown echoing on one side. You touch experimentally
and it throbs like a sore tooth. You push it again, harder, and soon
you are curled up in a ball with no pants on, digging both thumbs
into the bruise, till your husband or boyfriend walks in and asks
what the hell you’re doing, but by now the damage is done. All day
you think about the bruise, show it to people; alone in your office
you roll up your pants and gaze at it; in meetings or classes,
at dinner, you reach under the table to press it. You have not
had a bruise like this since you were a kid falling out of trees.
The bruise makes you feel alive, and you cannot bear to think of it
turning motley green and yellow like old leaves and fading to memory.
Since the bruise is on your knee, you kneel down to it, bouncing
on the hardwood floor. Soon you are on just the one knee,
proposing to the bruise beneath you, begging it to never let you go.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro


ROXANNE HALPINE recently attended the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets and received her MFA from UNC Greensboro.