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Shamala Gallagher 


The slink of shirred clouds,

blue-twitching. It is not here yet.


The slink of radar:

watching families.


Adam likes the screens

open. I close them


but like them open

too. Sand and her people


on the steps.


If this is all a life is, watching,


childless, each person childless

of her own certainty—


each person barren of

certainty. Each man too,


each neighbor: so that

when you look across


the street the neighbors

are your own doubt.


No. No.

You are a spine of yellow

tooth-rose in the rain,


spine of yellow

flower, sea-spine,


brain that stars open, shines open,


forth-flower: I say this


to myself and to


Marquavius. He’s with a friend


on bicycles, one wheel that matches

his forest-green mountain bike


and one pink-and-white

wheel from a girls’ bike. He’s in our carport


pumping at the wheel. Marquavius.


One month I called Shruti and said

Marquavius is always here.


He pets the sweet cat Leela, the large

silk-silver and ink-heat one. Marquavius


craning his head to Leela: I want


a cat like Leela. Marquavius at the door

wants Adam.


I call Shruti: Marquavius always

wants Adam.


What do we do? What do we do?


I will not call myself white

but white guilt, white guilt


plasters my face as the storm


stirs in its pit. My in-laws


live in Florida, says Reg,

and they won’t


leave. But it’s time to

leave Florida. The South


of Florida is sinking... and the storms


are three times as large,

says Reg. The storms are growing.

On Herman Street Marquavius

and his friends are


inside. The street is black-shine


and the trees green-whistle. Adam

is at work because he provides


an essential

service. Late morning, I’m alone


on Herman Street.


The storms are growing

and quick-silk vapor


on Herman Street flicks

along the alleys


where Jean’s cat cases

the street, the kittens & mothers


long carted away

in Adam’s county truck to the shelter.




I can still do more

than I have done


I realize in my thirties

once the Lexapro


has taken root

in my blood, blood-root

trickster, insinuated

into my bloodstream

so that it is

necessary: so that despair follows


in its absence:


& did I invent

my own despair


from sheer wanting to say


like you I

have suffered. It turns out


that in late summer

of the end times


the air cools early,


brings its balm

to the sweat-soaked

fear of summer

early. In the yard


the moon starts to

double. I can’t


tell: by the time

I look away


I can’t tell

what I’ve invented.

Shamala Gallagher is an Indian / Irish American poet and essayist currently based in Athens, GA. Her recent work has appeared in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Black Warrior Review, The Rumpus, The Offing, and Bettering American Poetry vol. 2

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