Rite of Passage
by Claire Scott

I said to Natalie you go

At the bottom of a pile of muddy boys
his shoulder screaming, separated,
his arm dangling long by his side

What is this macho ritual called rugby
all this fighting over a leather ball
cloak and sandals, shield and sword

I flew to Portland to be with him
Natalie joined us that night
she picked at my spinach pasta

Natalie not my first choice, too clingy
too much make up, seems a bit dull
my son adores her

The three of us took a cab to OHSU
the early morning streets were slushy
no one had bothered to eat

We waited in a windowless room
that smelled of dread and burnt coffee
we thumbed through old People magazines

They said only one of us could go with him

Flashes of his birth, laying him in a bassinet,
the first day of kindergarten, the two weeks at summer
camp where he was bitten by a spider

Now Lewis and Clark, six hundred miles away
the first line of this poem should read
               a pile of muddy men
so I can say to Natalie you go


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