The Prodigal Arm

Silhouette photo of trees

I cut off my arm.
Numb from shoulder to hand, it didn’t hurt.

I used a coping saw to stop it wandering
and in the garden I burnt

the only budding branch.
Just to be sure, I severed the driveway

and stood over the ravine where the street
surged and boiled like a flooding river.

Later the charred branch made a stake
for a withered vine. The birds

pecked out the fruit but the stake
rooted in its own ashes,

sprouted and flowered, and I knew
my lost arm had come home

with a life I could not feel
but was my own.


Poem by Janet MacFayden

Janet MacFadyen is author of five poetry collections, with a new book forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Recent work appears in Scientific American, Naugatuck River Review, CALYX, Crannóg, Sweet, Osiris, The Blue Nib, Tiny Seed Journal, Q/A Poetry, Soul-Lit, and elsewhere. She has held a Fine Arts Work Center fellowship and a residency at Cill Rialiag, Ireland. She is managing editor of Slate Roof Press.