Jul/Aug 2015 Spotlight

Two Poems

by Courtney Gustafson

Photography by Lydia Selk

Photography by Lydia Selk

Two Months After the Wedding

Two months after the wedding
I drove my wife into a tree.
This is what was left of her:
a broken jaw, broken nose, a lot of blood.
Shattered eye sockets. This was before
airbags and seat belts and the dashboard
was maybe made of metal. She was
the impact. She was a crash.

After that she was mostly
made of wire. In the car
and the hospital there was no time
to think but after that
that was all there was. Two months
were nearly all we had.
It was the deer that jumped in front of us.
I was the one who swerved.

It should have been the sirens
that haunted me but instead
it was her. It was too late for me but still
she stayed: a woman I could never
care for, a woman wired back together.
So many years later she is a white
nightgown in the dark when we can't sleep.
We don't drive after dark.


Grief Reaction

When she was at her sickest, small
and yellow, my mother appeared pregnant
in my dreams, healthy and glowing,
with the bad perm she had in her thirties.
She had been trying for a long time, I think.

When the baby was born
it was made out of paper.
My dad wore hospital scrubs and
he held it like he might rip it in half,
this white origami infant,
and my mom looked at him eagerly,
waiting to hear that it had all ten
fingers and toes.

They left the baby in a recycling bin
on the way out of the hospital.
Everything was dark. When I woke up
I remembered that my mom was dying.
And this might be the best thing
I can do for her: to let her be
the one who is dying.


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