Back to Issue Forty-One

Visiting Gloversville


It is March. Somebody told me that.
Across the street at the dealership, freezing men
open the doors of one car after another, looking in.
The news plays over my head. It’s someone’s birthday.
There’s been a fire. Across the street
at the dealership, all the cars display themselves
hoods up, gaping with a cardboard sign inside.
Pain is his biggest obstacle now, the firefighter’s wife reports.

Long ago, someone named this place for a reason.
My great-grandfather’s work was so soft
it was almost unimaginable.
Almost Hollywood when you slipped it on your fingers.
Now: a gorge struck through with opioids. A brick factory so empty
I think of throats. Men lean gently
into conversation with strangers, anointing vacancies.

In the town hall, if I wait long enough, I can find
the records of my prior generations.
Of a village founded on the beauty
of the human hand. How it looks
in the skins and silks of others.
How it feels with its pad of blood at the thumb
or thick when it’s full of money.
What it does when it squeezes the air.
How it kills a man.


Jay Deshpande is the author of The Umbrian Sonnets (PANK Books) and Love the Stranger (YesYes Books). His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, New England Review, and Best American Poetry 2021. He is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, a Kundiman fellowship, and residencies at Civitella Ranieri and the Saltonstall Arts Colony. He teaches for Brooklyn Poets and in the MFA program at Columbia University.

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