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Angela Adams

I Always Have the Words

I always have the words

And if I don’t, I can find them

Hidden under rocks and 

In crevices

Safe from the devil under doilies 

Poems help me process

Feelings I don’t know I had somehow 

Wind up on a page, on a screen 

Sometimes its not till I read my own words 

That I feel.


So why am I denying myself the luxury of language this time around? 


If I write the words, 

David is really dead. 

And Jim, too. 

And for fuck’s sake, writing the words 

Means Rich is gone and damnit, 

Rich always gets better. 

Rich always comes back.

Six months later and I still 

Can’t drive by his house on the hill without 

Looking in the window expecting to see him, 

Watching basketball on the big screen.


If I write the words, 

My kids are really watching their best friends pack favorite books into boxes

Purging everything that’s not a priority, to make space in the moving truck

Compass pointing eight hours east, carrying with them memories of what healed my children.

And if I write the words, 

Our community, the hitch we chose to hook our weary wagon to 

Is dismantling, distributing tools, 

Selling the land

And when I pass the fields we rented out, full of shoulder-high corn

I feel it in my gut, have we 

Sold our soul


If I write the words, 

It’s a luxury 

And I should be working. 

And if not working, then I should be parenting. 

And if not parenting, I should be wrapping dishes and labeling boxes with permanent markers 

Instructing future strangers where to place my best belongings 

In some house we’ve not yet bought, 

In some city we’ve not yet committed to

“And I’ve been afraid of changing cause I’ve built my life around you.”

My elder has died, my community has died, too.  

I should be making new friends:

I filled out the enrollment cards for our kids school and had no emergency contact left to write. 

When we were sick with bronchitis and pneumonia last week we took our kids with us to the doctor because we didn’t have a sitter. 

The nurses needed to pull in extra chairs to fit all four of us. 


In a matter of months our family has gone from 30 to 4 

Pausing to reflect feels like impact after free fall 

I don’t have the breath 

And I don’t have the words. 

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