I see a face that’s been broken
by a blow or a punch;
it’s been shattered into fragments.
The pieces aren’t flesh;
they are more like glass.
My job is to put them together,
to make the face whole again.
When I’m finished,
I recognize the face.
It’s the most famous face in the world,
but it has cracks running through it.
Night of Broken Glass
Shards of glass on the floor
point to a minor disaster: A wine bottle
got smashed in our building’s hallway.
Did the woman next door
throw the bottle in a rage
at the man next door?
Or did the man next door
drop the bottle as he stumbled home
in a drunken stupor?
There were no angry words, no sounds
of stumbling, thudding or shattering
during the night of broken glass.
All I see are the remains
of a bottle that had been empty:
The floor is not stained red.
Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of the novels Haywire, Tetched and Roughhouse. He teaches at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and at the Writer's Voice of the West Side YMCA in Manhattan. He received a fiction fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.