About the Feature

Photo by Rick Harris

Such sounds. Your mother in the kitchen
over a pot of stuffed cabbage, crying, Istenem,
istenem, istenem
and you answering her back,
There is no God God is dead he’s dead my brother
is dead. What should I say about your brother
in the attic with a gun? He left you alone as he
has always done. Alone in this winter as cold
as the old country. The new country. Irrelevant,
I come to you. I want to be a witness to
your life. So I hold your knees, brave the bloody
room for his papers, make you sandwiches
you hold on your breast for later. I fend off
his ex who comes, limbs manic and eyes wild,
into a house we’ve just got quiet. I stay so
many days. I think, until you can answer
the phone, the door, me, until you can sit
beside his chair, until you can throw out his
unfinished whiskey, until you don’t need
the whiskey. I don’t know what keeps
me there, past politeness, when my family
says, Come home it’s Christmas, when you try
to send me away and your mother nods.
I don’t know how so serenely I bear
your rage, shivering and crystalline
in the air between us, though it’s mostly
meant for Peter and your own self,
who did not wake at the crack of his .22.
I love you, I say. You would do it for me,
I say. This is what old lovers do. Eight years
ago in summer, riding shotgun in your rust-
built truck, I was wrung, sad, unequal
to the heart in my chest, and weary of
the sunlight lifting the maple trees. I wanted
to be gone—a pale and bloody effacement—
as free as Peter would be. Forgive me for
ever feeling I could leave you that way.

About the Author

Amanda Gunn received an MFA in poetry from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and is currently a PhD student in English at Harvard University where she studies twentieth-century American poetry, black poetics, and black pleasure. Her poems have appeared in the Baffler, Poetry Northwest, Redivider, and others.