Two Poems

by Tom Healy

Quiet Hands

My nephew is stimming
this morning,
marching in place,
grinning at the parade
only he knows
is passing.

Now rocking
like a monk.
Now fluttering
his fingers
into the wing beat
of a hummingbird.

Why is he so patient
with our infirmities?
We don’t see
the flowers he drinks
from, the garden
we’re foolishly trampling.


Turning into Her

There is a spelling bee on television
and a soft, elaborated boy
in a cardigan sweater is faltering
on the word “bedizened.”
There are audience reaction shots,
a knowing mood and murmur,
smirks among the other parents,
even the judges. It is as if this boy
has been caught at home
in his mother’s mirror, a mother
who doesn’t have the jewelry
or dresses he’d want her to have.
And so he’s put on her nightgown
through which he can see and
touch himself. Then he takes
a pilled winter scarf that scratches
his neck and he doesn’t know
what to do with it. Over
his head or draped as a shawl? Or
sashay and have it float around
and around him as he dances
in her dull, muddy lipstick
and her sneakers. Enough
because they are hers, because
people already think he is his mother
when he answers the phone
and he has her eyes and he’s
never told her she’s beautiful.
As if his adornment could
protect them both. As if
his silent turning into her
could ever be enough.


—Tom Healy is chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, which oversees the Fulbright program worldwide. He was appointed to the board by President Obama. Healy is the author of What the Right Hand Knows (Four Way Books, 2009) and Animal Spirits (Monk Books, 2013). He is a visiting professor at the New School.

BOMB 123
Spring 2013
The cover of BOMB 123