Stone Telling

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My Son Asks About his Surgery

by Karen Joy Fowler

After a shower, the scar surprises you in the mirror,
curving from your left armpit to your spine.
You were born with one wing, I answer,
shaped like a football pennant, covered in fine
white feathers. Half an angel. We had it removed,
your father and I, afraid it would prove difficult later,
to fit into t-shirts, to fit in with peers. And after all,
what good is one wing? An appendage so numinous
might one day have tempted you beyond yourself.
Where is it now? With a hundred other superfluous
parts, pickled on some laboratory shelf.
The feathers we saved for your pillow. They bring
Those not-quite-human dreams. Kiss me. I see despite
All my persuasion, you would like to have a wing.
You think you might have gained a modest height,
a little lateral control. Done just a bit of hovering.

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of five novels and three short story collections. Her first novel, Sarah Canary, won the Commonwealth medal for best first novel by a Californian; her third, Sister Noon, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner; and The Jane Austen Book Club was a New York Times bestseller. She has two Nebulas for short fiction, one being for the title story in a new collection, What I Didn't See. Another story, "The Pelican Bar," recently won the Shirley Jackson and the World Fantasy Award.
She lives in Santa Cruz, California with her husband.

"My Son Asks About his Surgery" previously appeared in Michael J. Bugeja's The Art and Craft of Poetry, Writer's Digest Books, 1994.

Photography: Look Mum, by Stuart Anthony.