December 16, 2021

Amanda Newell

STILL ATTACHED

His foot, cast and wrapped
in gauze, toes sprouting
like sun-scorched weeds—
not even the worst
of what he refuses to call
his combat injuries,
since he was never in
actual combat, unworthy
of the Purple Heart merely
for being in the driver’s seat.
So when he wishes himself
dead, I try to imagine Adam
in the underworld, sulking
with Achilles, two players
ejected from the game.
How cruel they can be,
the gods, who know so well
our particular griefs: his
piss-stained underwear
piled in the corner, my shame
at his noticing my noticing,
how we speak of his luck.

from I Will Pass Even to Acheron
2021 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner

__________

Amanda Newell: “The collection was inspired by my former high school student Adam, who nearly died while serving in Afghanistan when a command-controlled improvised explosive device was detonated beneath the M-ATV he was driving. In school, Adam loved literature and was drawn in particular to the literature of war. During his long recovery, I would visit him in the VA hospitals with some of his other teachers, and I often found myself struck by the power of the war narrative and how its particular mythology stubbornly persists in the face of human destruction.” (web)

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