Parents Give Their Son With Down Syndrome Cosmetic Surgery

His parents believe the soul
is stretched across the skull.
His skull has been modified
by blue surgeons with saws.

This will be his third time
under gauze. They pared
his tongue and jaw, made
slides of the raw tissue.

The parents say their boy looks human now.
They deny his anger and lust, his art and love,
his lineage to those murdered at birth,
or freak-shown with the deranged to the king.

Their boy’s face becomes an institution.
Here, everything is scrubbed.
He sits in a room, hungry for the world,
and touches each lobe of a puzzle. He thinks

of his love, how she kissed his eyes,
how they shared the same words for clouds.
The visitors’ reflections shine
along the immaculate corridor.

J. Rodney Karr is a poet living in Denmark. His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and dirtcakes, among other publications. He holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas.