Amanda Allen, a native of Burlington, Vermont, earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing at SUNY Potsdam. In 2010, Amanda won the North Country Literary magazine Writing Contest, and was published again in the magazine in 2012. In 2011, she was also published in the Glass Mountain literary magazine, and was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, the international English Honor Society. In the fall, Amanda will attend the University of Maryland – College Park to pursue a Master's of Fine Arts in Poetry.
On the way home from Oakledge park one afternoon,
we were closer than ever. We were cutting through the fog
in my father's gray station wagon singing along
to Billy Holiday, the tears in her throat. And so my father told me
the story of Uncle Jimmy, who set fire to his '95 Buick
in the driveway of their parents' old stone house.
It's true that he'd had quite a few beers. My father's eyes
were glazing over, his voice caught as he spoke his dead brother's name.
He told me the tires melted into the pavement.
You can see the dark patches to this day.
What could I say? My father's lazy foot pushed at the gas
and the car swerved right, then left. Some of us are meant to burn.
You cannot think of it
as abuse. To feel blood vessels
burst, to see bruises and broken bones
is not to feel compassion. Listen,
you must think
of the instant when the black eye
is stamped on skin. That moment
of connection. His hands are sweeping
across her face. The jaw line
trembles at the touch. The soft
tissue of the cheek gives in.
To wonder why she stays - a carcass
scattered on the kitchen floor - is to question
this animalistic truth:
we all need something to cling to.
I can hear my parents' voices in the room
above mine, ribbons of sound.
A girl in class told a story
about the night she was raped. I wanted to cry
out in pain. Her body was taken
when she was fourteen,
the body of every woman.
Upstairs the television hums, private murmurs
vibrate the floor. My mother's voice
calls out in pain or pleasure. We are so different,
collected by these four walls.
The girl shook as she told the story.
I should have taken her hand. But it was too late
to save her.
The walls touch the earth, the air. The ceiling fan
shakes. Here I am, suspended,
somewhere in between.