—after Mary Szybist—
Amy, mother mine, meaning
“dearly beloved.” We are gathered
here today, in this ghost-iron lost-city,
to forget all about you. I dig
in and out of you each day
like a mine shaft: cut-down
and dangerous. I keep hoping
for the quick breath of discovery,
for the coal dust of my heart to settle
and leave me sooted, ready
for jewels. I am slick with the afterbirth
of your memory. But I clean myself, ablute
palatially, prairie-pray—I lay
me down to sleep, I am a child
for you again. Where did I go wrong?
Every sin of me, Amy, I claim. Each
and every gayness. I am saying: help me
understand why sincerity’s a grave-
yard of dead language. I forget
you. I forget. I close the shaft, let it
fall in on itself like a tarred and dying lung—
stop thinking of you, how quiet
I am behind you in the portrait
where we look like a family—like now,
and at the hour: the quiet, canary-
hour of our death. Was it there,
Amy? Ah, me? Amen?

J.M. Gamble is a Ph.D. student in Women's Studies and English at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared in The Rumpus, SOFTBLOW, and The Collapsar, among others.