The Faith Healer

When I turned,
it was like the father
had been walking right
toward me forever
with his eyes shut
pushing that boy,
all washed up and
dressed up and riding
above those long spokes
shooting light like
he was something more than arms
and a chest. Already
the mother was saying please,
oh please, partly to me
partly because she heard
the sound, so soft
and far off at first
you might have never guessed it
was going to be the father
with his eyes shut, screaming.
But I knew, and I knew
even before it stopped
and he began to point
down at his son’s
steel feet and whatever
was inside the dead
balloons of his pants,
the father did it. So when
he said he did it,
I was thinking of how
only his mouth was moving
in his shut face like
he had gone somewhere
outside of his body
which he could not stand.
And when he said
he did it because his son
burned the new barn down
to the ground, then shook
and shook so you could see
he was inside his body
and could never leave,
all I could think
was how the wind was moving
the tent. Lifting it up
and up around the father
who could not see it lifting,
and the mother with the no-
color dress, and that small,
still boy, all washed up
and dressed up and
looking right at me
almost like it was OK
being a chest. Which was the moment
when my own legs went out
from under me, and I woke
with the cold steel bars
of his wheelchair fast
in my hands, and shouting
like for the first
time, heal, oh heal,
over and over to the legs
that could not walk,
and to the legs
that could, and to everyone,
everywhere, who could never
get free from such sadness.

-Wesley McNair