I will be out of this country for just two weeks.
During that time
a car will be driven into a day care center.
A 4 year old girl will die.
14 people were be injured.
In Texas, there will be another shooting in Ft. Hood.
4 people will die.
16 will be hurt.
In Pittsburgh 24 people will be stabbed inside a school.
A place for learning.
All of this will be reported to me,
on the other side of the ocean
listening to people talk about
my fellow citizens
and their actions
like talking about a tribe they don’t understand.
When I come back
the only music store left in NYC,
a cultural institution for 75 years will be shuttered.
I will hear about an art supply store closing
as well as yet another bookstore.
I will wonder if in its place
gun stores will spring up.
Why not? That is our new national pastime.
We have no artists,
I will watch this country
like a woman watches a deadly car crash
for my own safety
Emma Sings in Church
We take our seats in the church,
here for the noon day free concert
that they’ve been offering for 75 years.
It makes me wish the churches back home did this sort
of thing and then I remember that if they did
I wouldn’t be free at noon on a Tuesday anyway.
My weekdays belong to someone else.
I fidget, squirming in my seat
like a child,
behind me the pipes of the organ shine.
When the musicians come in I start.
They are all so young,
long hair and nervous smiles.
You can see the energy wafting off of them.
I look around the packed church,
my husband and I are the youngest people here
but we are not young,
not like these girls
who tuck their violins under their chin
fingers quivering with so
When the soloist comes out,
her voice otherworldly
exactly the way Handel would have wanted
I feel something shift in me,
and for a moment I wonder if I will make it home
or if my plane will fall out of the sky.
I look at the program.
Her name is Emma,
this small girl full of so much sound
that I can feel myself breathe it in.
It tastes like buttermint and time.
It tastes like all that life
still ahead of her
begging to be filled.
For a moment I remember what that felt like
and then I close my eyes
and beg it to stop.
Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press), the children's book Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books) and This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the poet and novelist John Grochalski.