Carved by Lightning

In high school, my best friend’s

twin sister had polio as a child;

she had a pretty face

and tight curled auburn hair

but she could only walk

with two metal crutches—

her legs two straight sticks.

The other kids made fun of her

the way cruel high schoolers do,

my friend red-faced

walking faster

keeping his head down,

getting as far away

from her as he could.

Once when I slept over their house

she snuck into my room;

her crutches as mute

as an unformed thought,

touching me under my boxer shorts.

she wouldn’t let me touch her legs

or go past her silk pajama top.

They looked so much alike

that I couldn’t stand

to be around him after that night,

the memory of her soft hands

and the steel like cold of her legs

she pressed against me just once

before she told me to clean up,

my legs on fire as she stroked a thigh

sighing into my ear, don’t tell Jim—

he thinks a cripple can’t do anything

except lie still like a broken branch,

but I’m more like a tree carved

by lightning, fed by rain and wind.

MICHAEL MINASSIAN is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist (2010); Chuncheon Journal (2019); and photography: Around the Bend (2017). For more information: