Back to Issue Forty

Self Portrait With Airplane Turbulence


I don’t know what I am, but I am not
one incarnation. 7 miles over the city
the plane bucks between tar-coated angels

& night’s groaning lightbulbs.
On my way home from una visita:
my grandmother, 100 years packed
into her, coral & mammal.

She pressed my hand
in hers, said esta manita tan suave.
My body obeys, begins tumble

breath caught between gullet
& fingers switching the music:
soundtrack I could die to, some way

to give thanks. Scorpio moon,
eyes wheel up, my abuela already cupping
my face in her palms, coos bendiciones.

I have washed the dead before. I know
exactly how many buckets of water.



Way Too Late


for elegies about the earth, too late
to speculate about orangutangs
and osprey and a car flooding
down that filthy chocolate river
German street with a sticker
on its bumper saying
fuck you Gretta. Too late
for compost, ecopoem,
too late to list the glaucous
green taxonomies and call them
other than eulogies, to find out
later the bumper sticker was a fraud
but not the flood. Ecopoem
I hate that, because my people
have written them for millenia,
we call them Tehilim,
they are kindnesses, are credit,
consequence, self-
condemnation, and the root
word means to shine a light,
to illuminate with awe, the kind
of awe that implicates. A litany
of cedar trees and riverbanks
and howling braying mammals
is not a comfort, not pastoral
but a clamp-song fastening,
a heap and rapture over We.
We did the research, the professor
tells me, kids in America
use I and Me eleven times more
than We and Us,
is it too late for this?
I call R on my dog walk
say, how’s today? She says,
my baby’s breathing burning
trees, we stayed inside all week.


Mónica Gomery is a poet and rabbi living on unceded Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia. Her second book, Might Kindred, won the 2021 Prairie Schooner Raz-Shumaker Book Prize, and is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press. She is also the author of Here is the Night and the Night on the Road (Cooper Dillon Books, 2018), and the chapbook Of Darkness and Tumbling (YesYes Books, 2017). Her poems have appeared in the Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day, Foglifter, Waxwing, The Journal, Best Small Fictions 2020, and elsewhere. Read more at

Next (Aldo Amparán) >

< Previous (Chen Chen)