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John Hardecke

To George Orwell

To George Orwell

The scar from a drunken slip on ice
Makes my forehead a forensic landscape,
Reminding me that I was once saved
By a kick in the head from a drunken friend.
Cucumbers under my eyes might improve the bags,
But I won’t bother; the bags
Give me comfort, telling me that I was awake
When others slept.

The mask grows to fit my face,
Or is it the other way around? The face
In the mirror that I review and remember.
The mirror has tooth paste specks

Dating from the last solar eclipse
Specks I won’t clean until the world is correct,
For what is the point?  I shoot the quiet elephant
Every morning and watch the village rush in to feed.

Those specks on the mirror are my last
Best hope for redemption
Reminding me that although I pulled the trigger
Yesterday, as I do every day,
Tomorrow I might shoulder
My weapon and walk away.

For had he not kicked me, in just
The right place, at just the right time,
My teeth would have hit the concrete
And my mask would have grown differently.

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John Hardecke is an assistant professor of English at East Central College in Union, Missouri.

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