Steven Sanchez – Tread

Steven Sanchez

Tread

He helps me carry
their old hutch
into my apartment, 

but I let go
before he’s ready—
oak slides against his palm

and he winces before running
water over his hand.
He searches for splinters 

the way he looks for leaks
in a tire, air bubbles replaced
by subtle stings. He taught me

to carry heavy things
with my legs, to keep my back
firm like a handshake.

The glass panes already missing,
I remember how he’d say
it’s better to break something 

instead of someone—I can replace
windows and dishes
, but never your mother.
I prayed for their divorce, 

prayed for his lungs to collapse
every time glass splintered
around his fist. I don’t pray

anymore. When he calls, I sit
by him in the hospital room
each time his lung deflates,

and the doctor shrugs, says
it’s spontaneous, as if his lung
were a tire, subject to 

hydroplanes, black ice,
and the debris we run over
every day. When he finds a bolt

in his tire, flush against the tread,
he whispers Thank God. How lucky
for tires to leak air slowly

instead of blowing out—maybe
that’s its own kind of mercy.

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