Journalism In Verse

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How to Survive Patriotism in 2019 [AUDIO]

in Immigration by

 

 

Make your grief a bed
beside the fireplace
using a cardboard box
and the old pink towel,

even if you have no
fireplace, no towel.
Grief is not safe
where you’re going

and you need your grief
to survive. Carry
as little as possible.
There is so much

to pick up, turn over,
hold in your hands,
more than you expect.
Then go. See what is,

bones and all, especially
the bones, untethered
and wet—press them
hard in your palms.

Dig up what was
in the absence of trumpets,
the bruising of color:
once, somewhere,

someone tried to be good.
In order to survive
you must weep
even if you have no eyes.

See? Your grief
would burn alive here.
Your palms might not
make it. Your eyes

might not make it.
That’s okay. Palms
are limited to pain
and non-pain, eyes

do their work in the gut.
Remember the earth,
how it breaks no promises
by making none.

Drag yourself home
through the debris,
even if there is no home,
even if there is no you.

Take up your grief,
even as it rattles in your arms,
sick without you.
Speak to it. Out loud.

It will hear you.
It will pant warm air
and fold itself up
against your cold skin.

 

________

Abby E. Murray is the editor of Collateral, a journal that publishes work concerned with the impact of war and military service beyond the combat zone. She lives near Tacoma, Washington, where she is the city’s poet laureate.

Photo by Dayne Topkin.

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