Diploma Strings

by David Krancher

A one-day-old baby was given the DNA
for his brain in a bag half-filled with flour.
He grabbed its strings and pulled but the
strings got tangled in his mother’s hand
and didn’t come loose until a catcher’s mitt
freed him the spring he turned seven years old.
At nine, sitting in a redwood tree, a cigarette
singed five feet of it as it fumed in his mouth.
His father didn’t like the smell and flattened
four feet of his DNA with the back of his hand.
He kept a notebook to document every lost foot of it.
At eleven, a horse named Blue Giant hooked some
of it with six of her teeth and threw him into
berry briars so five feet of it was lost to the color red.
He wrote down all the numbers.
One summer a thirteen-year-old tongue extracted
only her fair share of the string from his ear,
though he tried and tried to give her more.
He wrote down all the numbers.
He graduated thirteenth in his class at eighteen,
donated thirty-two feet of DNA to a case of beer,
and found a six-string singer in his guitar case.
He wrote down all the numbers.
At twenty-one a little blue pill made him lose track
and, hoping to graduate to something better,
he threw away the numbers to begin counting
every little letter in a long, long string of words.

David Krancher © 2010