Thomas Lux

Ode to Scars
October 9, 2014 Lux Thomas

Ode to Scars


The scars on others’ faces draw me to them.

I wear none significant on my face

though an eight-inch one on my chest

is still a welt where it was opened

and closed four decades ago.

A student in my office once: small white quarter moon

on her lower right cheek.

In the institutional light

it was a pearl in three-quarter eclipse.

Praise her scar: for she earned it.

Praise the man whose forehead fell on his shovel

before he finished digging his own grave.

They shot him, thinking

it was deep enough. It wasn’t. The shovel

led to the murderers, who hanged.

Praise the scar there unrisen.

Praise the lug-nut slingshot scar

my uncle wore on his forehead: it allowed

him many stories and, somehow, lumbago.

Praise the scar like little railroad tracks

up the back of one friend’s head,

and whatever minute scars—on the child,

her mother, and my friend—the surgeons left

when they worked to bring my friends’ child to the world.

Praise all scars, which, by definition, reveal

that something, one thing, one

thing minimum,

is healed.

THOMAS LUX is Bourne Professor of Poetry at The Georgia Institute of Technology. He directs the McEver Visiting Writers Program and Poetry@Tech. He has published over a dozen books of poetry; his most recent isSelected Poems 1982-2012 (Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2014). His forthcoming books are To the Left of Time (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), and an edited volume, Selected Poems of Bill Knott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016). He has received three National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He also received the Kingsley Tufts Award for his book, Split Horizon.