The manila envelope is a map a window. The silver plane clip that closes has closed this bit of air mail delivered the news a sudden explosion smoke mirrored screams ash. We’re dropping bags of rice bundles of poems that might start fires clog gutters streets sewage backs up. The world doesn’t need
so many words no return address this bomb can’t return to sender undisclosed recipients a mass mailing this murder ink smeared rain-soaked package left on doorstep someone else’s paper waterlogged circulars prom photos a birth a death certificate the clippings my mother-in-law sends of hurricanes.
Hard to believe this comes from the sky because the earth erupts with a force so violent it must’ve come from within. Always the smudged glass of Hiroshima the World Trade Center’s gutted core Cairo Tunisia Beirut…a pair of shoes or a single shoe blood-spattered
pavement one end of a jump rope’s frayed edges the other pink handle perfectly intact. This isn’t a south Florida sinkhole. This isn’t a tsunami set off along the Pacific Rim. This is a direct order a man in a plane a man flying a drone. This is a missile manufactured in South Texas Chechnya Jiangsu Province
this is airmail a first class tragedy licked and sealed the last letter I wrote or the one I didn’t send the girl’s blue shoe one half of a jump rope. This is all that’s left. This map of before the dream after. That little clip holding the envelope closed inside the envelope the envelope please. Please.
___ 1 after Sarah Van Sanden’s "Seed on Envelope" Graphite and Conté crayon on manila envelope, 11" x 6"
The Infant Corpses at the Home for Young Girls
All those babies, some stillborn, some born into the still air of dank rooms. How many Our Fathers to absolve their unoriginal sin shared with all fatherless kin?
A breed as bad or worse than orphans. When nuns wrote death by natural causes, did they mean tsunami, lightning strike, an infection that couldn’t heal without medical attention?
Unlucky kin borne by real Marys who wore shame’s nightshirt-- girls touched by boys and men, scarred by the short fall from grace. I know why a young mother might kiss
her milk-drunk babe before covering nose and mouth with one hand. Because she cannot protect her girl-child from anything of consequence: birth’s bright death sentence.
Here, before any man’s hurt her, no woman’s shamed her, no god’s judged. No other way to erect a shield large enough to prevent every ache, that which splits spirit and skin. No way
to quell that other hunger: love, infinite and inadequate. It’s pain from the beginning—that inexplicable spasm, the first time you’re kicked from the inside.
Toddler Pulled From Rubble in Aleppo
A stony forecast—sifting concrete, rebar, ash, building’s blasted torso. What comfort in dark of collapse: dry womb, throb of ambulance heartbeat. Two minutes,
twelve seconds to pluck the girl from stone: a small trophy the men lift to camera. No blood, the child’s minute fists, a stunned expression. My heart beats
in my eyes, the feel-good headline asks me to define alive, “in life,” to survive the daily blast, as witness or survivor. In her crib, my child sleeps: stone cut
from bones; a mother’s love, an axe. To believe this roof won’t collapse, I build a storied fortress, a fiction: heart’s bleating cry. After midnight,
my daughter calls, wants my heart’s beat-- to know the dream was a dream. I sway/kiss/hum, building to a lullaby that soothes and acts as talisman:
fiction my privilege enacts. My share of calamity’s minute but inflated-- hot air balloon building heat, speed, so far above survivors ground-bound,
digging barehanded through stone. Sirens rattle: war’s ragged heart beats in 4/4 time, passed down bloodline until a heart beats still. To survive or
thrive: the distance between two buildings, which end of axe in hand. Child, will tomorrow bring more thrown stones? Can we save the smoothest to rebuild?
-- Emari DiGiorgio’s first book The Things a Body Might Become is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in July 2017. She’s received residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, Sundress Academy of the Arts, and Rivendell Writers’ Colony. She teaches at Stockton University, is a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Poet, and hosts World Above, a monthly reading series in Atlantic City, NJ.