Lisa Bellamy

Dear Grievance

Dear Grievance, dear Sister. Dear Ghost. Dear Crackle, Flare,

Sizzle. Dear Uncontrolled Burn. Dear Blast, Canker,

Unhealed Sore. Dear Unstoppable, 100-year Storm in a Bottle.

Three a.m.: you’ve appeared, yet again, in my ear—

my high-speed bedroom fan, persistent whir,

proves no match for you, dear Scatter-shot Anger—

dear Elder, near-Womb, near-Mother;

dear Hornet. As always, dear Sting, you evade my silencer.

Dear Voice, insistent over white noise,

hush, I say. Hush. For once, listen: my kid-sister sass,

my tall tales, splendid stories. Dear Broadcaster,

Star of your solo, still-uncancelled talk

show. Dear Shade. Listen. To me. I am bold to say, Listen.

Curriculum Vitae

I was not the one who died in winter, stiff in a pine coffin,

stacked upright against the barn until spring thaw.

Nor was I one who stayed, arm bitten by a horse;

hand blown away by a friend’s gun; or leg caught in a thresher—

bleeding out, dying dry and alone like late summer wheat.

I was the one who migrated east, but hard lines still bracket my mouth,

like a woman who buried a son in Alberta soil. When I walk,

I feel the ache of my ancestors’ legs as they trudged from their barns

to supper. When I cannot sleep, I hum their tuneless homesteader’s hymn.

If someone asks me how I am, I say fineNo, really, they say.

I. Am. Really. Fine, I reply. I carry my ancestors’ silence,

in this talkative age. I carry their knowledge how half-

buried rocks break a plow. When I try to talk, I feel their tears in my throat. 

Lisa Bellamy studied with Philip Schultz at The Writers Studio, where she teaches. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, and the Adirondack Park. She is the author of The Northway and Nectar, and has received two Pushcart Prizes and a Fugue Poetry Prize.