Millicent Borges Accardi
THE BODY MUSIC OF THALIDOMIDE
Like a percussion instrument,
he plays his own abbreviated body.
The dirty weight of feet,
kicks at his chest, playing ribs
alongside rhythms, the bone-noise
causing attention on the Boardwalk.
Each saw-tooth note snaps in half
while the resonance of thumbs
pounds the brown clay of his
forehead. He moves like a seal.
No legs, but the skin, the chalk fingers,
so fast so fluid. His fists against
the pavement popping up
and crashing down to disco
music. The blurred trellis of eyebrows,
raised like frets, groans. His hands
attached without benefit of arms.
Across his neck veins stretch
in time while smiles struggle
to say it all because they have to
keep the crowd watching, pitching
quarters into the open instrument case.
The money coming in. Elemental
chords, minor 3, 5, 8's breathe silver
notes above a river hanging
in the coarse valley of his throat.
Next door, the ocean roars like a child
left behind. His waist dances in
2/4 time, hatches an earthiness
of timbre. He sways high above the
swing-tree, all wiry and dull and,
for a moment, perfect
in the dance. We nearly forget
about Thalidomide. Then the tall man
starts a drum roll, his wooden rods
flying from his hands. The sounds land
like bubbles as people scatter, run from
the ugliness, the scene, the mistake.
And suddenly, life has too many notes,
too many sticks to pick up.
Too much to think about.
Millicent Borges Accardi's writing awards include grants from
the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Council and The Barbara
Deming Foundation. Her work has appeared in over 50 journals and several
anthologies. Recent work has appeared in News Letters, Tampa
Review , and The Wallace Stevens Review. She
lives in Topanga, California, working as a freelance technical writer
and teaching college writing as an adjunct instructor.