By John M. Heavey
Furcula or “little fork” the Etruscans called them,
these wishbones in a zip-lock in the junk drawer
from Thanksgivings long gobbled away.
All those unwishes waiting to be wished with a two-finger tug.
An Etruscan priest wouldn’t dream of snapping a furcula in two.
I can see him overlooking the Ligurian Sea, stroking the furcula
and chanting to Neptune for his son’s safe passage home
from a trading voyage to Alexandria.
Here I stand on the harbor shore, wishbone in hand,
No Neptune to invoke, but a God who doesn’t go for good-luck tokens.
Heed the Etruscan lead; embrace the lucky fork.
Dangle it from rearview mirrors.
May it hang from necks and lie tucked under pillows.
Broken or stroked, an amulet for these forked times.
This feather-light, pleated mask,
blue as a summer day,
familiar as underwear,
could be a parasail for crickets,
a beach cabana for mice.
Or on a warm summer eve just past dusk,
we could all gather
with our masks rigged as Chinese lanterns,
light the candles, send our masks aloft
to drift as glowing lumens, sunrise-orange,
rising, farther out, ever distant,
stars bespeckling our nights.
I have been an English teacher for 45 years and have a long-standing love and passion for poetry.
At Tabor Academy, where I’ve taught for the past 27 years, I have started both a poetry club and a regular poetry podcast.
The first poem, “Furcula,” was inspired by finding a baggie of old Thanksgiving turkey wishbones in
A junk door. The second poem, “2021,” well, is a whimsical meditation about uses for our masks when we no longer need them.