What’s left is hunt. Is father’s shirt
quickening on the line. Is the long
professorial praying mantis
puttering the garden, glossed
in moonlight, waiting for dinner
to appear and the TV rages:
men in kevlar, slithering the pocked-
up desert for oil and uranium.
When he was home, my father
would watch these reports
in our living room each night,
air strikes, drone strikes, a family
shot dark in a car, the incinerated
minds of caves. What I have left
is the sound of his suitcase
clattering down the stairs.
Is his face lit up as it studied
other faces being overriden
by flame. Lover of thrashing,
of the factless thrust, the barrel
cocked by someone else’s son,
never the quiet gesturer pausing
to look up at the bulletless moon,
never standing barefoot in wet grass
to watch this smaller hunter
devour the aphid, killing to stay
alive, killing only because it must.
Matthew Gellman’s poems are featured in Poetry Northwest, Narrative, The Common, the Missouri Review, Ninth Letter, the Nashville Review and elsewhere. He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets prize and a Brooklyn Poets fellowship. In 2018, Matthew was a finalist for Narrative‘s Tenth Annual Poetry Prize and for the Missouri Review‘s Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize, and was included in Narrative‘s ’30 below 30’ list. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and lives in New York City, where he teaches at Hunter College and the Fashion Institute of Technology.