August 2, 2015

Amy Elizabeth Robinson

WHAT DO YOU GIVE

What do you give to
people who have to
go on living?

If I could give that
thing a shape,
a weight,
a meaning,
I would send it
to them now—

the mothers.
Each would open
her box with
trepidation and
then marvel at
the

What do you give to
people who have to
go on living across
the courtyard
from one another?

If I could give that
thing a texture,
like breeze-drenched feathers,
or water seeping
through heavy stone,
I would send it
to them now—

the mothers.
Each would open
her box with
hope-taut aching
bones and
then release
when

What do you give?
I’d like to know
what size box to
have on hand.
I’d like to know
how many open
spaces such a
box can handle.
I’d like to know
I’ll never need
one for

Poets Respond
August 2, 2015

[download audio]

__________

Amy Elizabeth Robinson: “I live in Northern California and have an eight-year-old daughter. This week an eight-year-old girl went missing from her apartment complex in Northern California. Her body was found in a dumpster, raped and killed by a fifteen-year-old boy who lived in the same apartment complex. I am also raising a son, in a world that valorizes violence and instant gratification, that feeds us alienation and shame. Both of those children’s mothers are alive. How are they going to live? I sat outside my children’s bedroom while they fell asleep tonight, and cried, feeling like there is nothing I could give, nothing that could help, and fearing, just fearing. So I had to write. But of course words are missing.” (website)

Note: This poem has been published exclusively online as part of a project in which poets respond to current events. A poem written within the last week about an event that occurred within the last week will appear every Sunday at Rattle.com. Our only criterion for selection is the quality of the poem, not its editorial position; any opinions expressed are solely those of the poet and do not necessarily reflect those of Rattle’s editors. To read poems from past weeks, visit the Poets Respond page. Interact on our Facebook group. To have a poem considered for next week’s posting, submit it here before midnight Friday PST.