Self-Portrait as Amputation

It was in Frost’s “Out, Out—”
that I found it, imago of myself

as amputee, the Mansfield ridge
like a saw in the background

and the Vermont sky clotting
into dusk. Farm bells. Suppertime.

And the saw, as if to prove
saws knew what supper meant

grinding through sinew and bone.
Though Frost tells it differently,

I imagine the boy said nothing,
no rueful laugh, as the life poured

out of him and the others watched
dumbfounded, numb. Something

tells me it was no accident.
There is loss, and then there is

what the mind freely gives up:
He must have given the hand. If I cut

the part of me that wakes
every morning wondering

how I could be whole—
arms and legs intact, vertebrae

still stacked along the track
of spine, skull still bobbing

on its pliant stem—I’d leave
another part dangling, ghost-

limb tingling where the heart
once skid. Is it better this way,

body still remembered, while skin
grows thin and taut over a loss

so clean it can never be replaced?