A Broken Ankle (and Oliver Cromwell)
by Steven McCabe
At the nine and one-half week mark
Your foot is still swollen
Your ankle looks like a loaf of rye bread baked
On a winter night and placed inside a blanket
As winds howl through cracks in the walls.
Or something meaty and coarse
Illiterate peasants tear between their teeth
Marching beneath a mercenary banner
Fighting a war for glory and power
Though not their own.
The instructions are:
Elevate, ice, and exercise,
Form the alphabet three times a day with your foot.
Do not dangle your foot for hours above any battle scenes
Celebrated in embroidered tapestries
Warming cold castle walls.
For the last month you have worn an air cast
Made of plastic and plastic fabric
Following six weeks of plaster and then fibreglass
You march beneath the banner of a cane. This is next.
The electricity goes out. You push past a blond woman on a horse
Climbing the stairs. She’s dressed like a fish.
Or so it seems with glimmers of moonlight passing through cracks
In the roof.
You rescue two children.
This is not possible you are on crutches.
Oliver Cromwell’s army is marauding through the streets
Looking for Irish to enslave or decapitate.
You tear down a tapestry showing Puritans Arriving in America
And roll up the children.
You put a loaf of fresh bread between them
Dragging the tapestry to the corner of the Great Hall
Behind a counter with pastries, a cash register, and postcards.
You find your crutches.
Your air cast is light and removable
For a month and a half you wore what felt like anvils
And told yourself you weren’t going crazy.
This doesn’t really bother me you said.
You tell yourself you won’t be captured.
At the fracture clinic they said you would walk in
On September 8th with a cane and a limp.
Your foot fits in your unlaced walking shoe.
Oliver Cromwell is trying on wooden shoes.
Where did he get those?
He laughs a high-pitched laugh.
His Puritan followers board a ship for the Caribbean
Leading captives bound neck to neck.
You walk right through them and shudder with cold.
You limp into the sunshine
Stopping at your neighbourhood cafe.