Karen Douglass, “A Loose Screw”

Karen Douglass
A Loose Screw

There’s something devilish about the screw
dropped and embedded in the carpet,
found by my bare foot. I curse

the origin of the screw and
its impact on civilization.
Desert nomads didn’t need screws.

Finding one in the sand, dropped from
a lorry lumbering through the desert,
a child would wonder, take it

to his father, uncle, older brother,
who smiles, examines the thing,
tests the point against a calloused thumb,

says it might harm the boy,
who still has tender hands.
The man knits his brow. Now

he must decide: if he throws it away,
this small, sharp worry will someday
bruise the foot of his camel.

He slips it into a pocket, where
he can pretend it does not exist.
He was happy until the boy came

to him with the thing. He searches
the horizon for what comes roaring
down on them from Bethlehem.

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