my mother, the day she knows the ones who died in the shooting
My mother calls & we talk for the sixth time today.
She says she’s driving toward the place
where they’ve set up the memorial
for those who have been killed. Teddy bears,
she says, you know there will be teddy bears,
& her voice rings that giddy pitch
somewhere between mad joy & grief.
It’s been too long since I’ve seen
a therapist & so learned, by talking, a way
to talk to someone else. I’m standing
in an abandoned science classroom, fidgeting
with the knob of a gas spigot. I want to cry,
hearing my mother’s voice, & think of lighting
a fire. There’s a secret to loss, but I don’t
know it. It hums like a distant radiator,
all sound & no heat. My mother says I’m sorry,
I just wanted to say something to someone
who would understand. How funny
that we’re here now, older & done with both
birth & its giving. & so in some ways
the same. I listen. I listen more & imagine her
driving, hands teetering upon the wheel
like something sacred, & know the road
is a story we share, a journey unrelenting. One day,
if time does right by us, I will have to bury her.
How can I possibly explain to you why
I think of this? Years ago, my mother turned up
after years of living as an absence, so much
like a ghost, to help bury the mother-
in-law who had wanted so badly to hate her.
& all day mother complained about the thinness
of grandma’s sweater. Which she would wear
eternally. & the cold. & how it too
would be eternal. Look, you who never
asked for this: it’s the bearing
that hurts. Not the losing. It’s the carrying
on. It’s the way, through the phone, I can hear
my mother flooring the pedal through the rest
of her life so she can catch up with the rest
of her life. I love you, I say, my head bent
& eyes pressed against the lab’s eyewash,
my hand trying & trying again to trigger
the water free, wanting only
to rinse my eyes clean,
though nothing comes out.
Devin Kelly earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is the author of In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (Civil Coping Mechanisms). He is the winner of a Best of the Net Prize, and his work has been published or is forthcoming in The Guardian, LitHub, Catapult, DIAGRAM, Redivider, and more. He lives and teaches high school in New York City.
Laurence Hervieux-Gosselin was born in Montreal, Quebec. She studied scriptwriting and communications at Université du Québec à Montréal and has a BFA in Photography from Concordia University. She is currently an MFA candidate in Art Photography in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. In 2018, she was a finalist for the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award, and in 2014, she was a finalist for the Ideastap Photographic Award with Magnum Photos. Her work has been exhibited at Uqbar (Berlin, 2018), La Castiglione (Montreal, 2018), Burrard Arts Foundation (Vancouver, 2017), Monash Gallery of Art (Melbourne, 2017), dnj Gallery (Santa Monica, 2016), and The Old Truman Brewery (London, 2014).