Cutting the Cord
by David N. DeVries

The husk of each of us holds the child
We each meant to be but never sat still
Long enough to learn the lines,
Those thin tethers that disappear in light
And fray unnoticed in the tangle of the days—
You can watch my sons to see this happen.
I know my mother saw a broken spider’s web
And thought of me because I made her
Catch at a falling filament as if to wrap
Her son in the shrinking bones of 1958
When her own mother’s final illness
Shadowed an x-rayed lung for the first time
And she shrank into herself shedding the folds
Of fat that gathered over the decades,
Her daughters holding her hands at each side
Of the bed, stroking the thinning white hair,
The smooth brow, the closed eyes,
Moistening the lips with the cool water of a sponge,
Until, at last, there was nothing left
For the nurse to do but turn her twice a day
Like lifting a child from out of the decay
Of disease and the latticed mesh of tubes and wires
And slowly lower her cradled head down.


David N. DeVries lives in upstate New York with his family.  
They moved there sixteen years ago after many years in New York
City.  DeVries has published articles on a variety of topics
including medieval poetry and culture.  His day job is in academic
administration (with an occasional foray into the classroom and the
library; he recently co-authored an article on Herman Melville’s Civil
War poetry).  DeVries thinks he has been apprenticing at poetry for
all of his life, though until now, he had only one published poem, in
The Cortland Review, to show for it.

On “Cutting the Cord”:
We’re still in the thick of child-rearing—breathlessly racing the
boys from practice to game to recital to school and back, all in
the gaps between the meetings we must keep and the paper we
must push.  But every so often you catch a glimpse of your
sixteen-year-old son, nearly as tall as you or taller now, and just
over his shoulder you see the photo you have on the refrigerator
from that trip when we asked the cab driver to snap a picture of
the four of us lined up with the city’s skyline in the background
and there stands the sixteen-year-old—he was ten years old
then—wedged up beneath your arm.  Those moments when the
fullness of the past nearly touches the fullness of the fleeting now,
those moments always catch me up short.  And then you take the
metaphoric step back and see that here is the work of the
generations.  Sometimes a poem results from those moments.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 3, Number 1
(Spring 2008)

Copyright © 2008
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.