Had she run away two days or was it five?
A handful of pills or the bottle entire?

Did the boy, panicking, forsake her in the grass,
with squealing tires take his hasty leave?

Convulsing in an oak’s sieved shade,
did acorns press her back like pebbles?

Or vomiting under a sweet gum’s canopy,
did goblin balls bite her bony knees?

Did he wag his finger at her face, stab at fathering,
insist on dinner one day after, or was it two?

Was her mother mute, her silence tangible
as fruit? Refusing food, did her mother order wine

or bourbon? Wordless, did the girl swallow hard,
listen to him talk of falling snow outside?

Or was it overdosing? For all the history of pain,
for wailing sirens and sweet gum leaves;

for love, a scarlet bird,
and blood-lights blurring trees;

for father, a distant doctor, masked,
in latex gloves and scrubs,

for daughter, and all her questions–
gurney straps and gastric irrigation.


Laura Isabela Amsel lives in Madison, Mississippi. She holds an MA in Spanish from Middlebury College. She has poems in Terrain, Another Chicago Magazine, Harbor Review, Cloudbank, wildness, Nimrod International Journal, and Atlanta Review. Her first book manuscript, A Brief Campaign of Sting and Sweet, won the Brick Road Poetry Prize.