A Love Poem
for Sally Archer


A guy about 28 in a wheel chair,
neck, arm, legs in metal braces,
was pushed by.
The resident who had done the tests
on me with the doctor, was explaining
how to get out of the hospital, said,

“He's got a bad spine too
—not as bad as yours
—been in that chair 4 years.”

In pity, I looked at him
“What keeps him going?”


I couldn't leave empty.
Go back to nothing
Not this time. Oh, 
not this time.


With a tender, long hug, 
I introduced myself 
to a 24-year-old woman with one leg.
A week earlier, she had microscopic surgery
to kill the nerve endings from her waist down
because the amputation done five years ago
caused constant, unbearable pain.

Curiosity, vitality, will, gone.
Eyes, face dull grey.

“Loneliness is everything the songs say it is,”
she said, looking away.
“What can I give now?
“Who wants a dried-up cunt!”

“I do,” I said rubbing her cunt
so she could see what I was doing.

For awhile, limits broken, pain eased,
comfort accepted
in this age so brutally without
human concern, risk, care, response.

from The Athlete. Copyright © James Humphrey Trust.


Using Format