I listen to the dark, that souvenir of light. What is darned and holed. I listen to the darts, the ends of their lines. Sometimes, I mute my reds to mauves, it is a slight denial, but some turns are slight. Sometimes, I want to scream, but I don’t.


The way we move through this world is a placement of position and time. The wilderness of my placement. I place my tongue to my lips; I place my eyes on these words; I place my trust in this world, but who is piecing together these days? Who is pruning the hours?


I ordered take-out the other day, pushed the front door open and out I was into a cold, beautiful fall day. As I crossed the street, and noticed a family walking in front of me, past an Italian restaurant.  

The child, a small girl, was screaming, I can’t take it. I can’t take it anymore.  

She couldn’t have been more than three or four years old. She was running alone, in front of her father. He didn’t run after her, but had her in his gaze. He didn’t seem alarmed, but I was.

He was yelling behind her, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.  

I can’t take it anymore, she screamed louder, as her face became covered in tears, I want to go to that restaurant, she began to bawl.

A part of me laughed at the absurdity of a small girl screaming that she couldn’t take it.  Another part of me laughed at the absurdity of a small girl screaming that she couldn’t take it anymore.   

It is hard to take it and go on with another hour, another day. Life isn’t fair.What is or isn’t fair, is still yours. You are yours.


In the movies, you learn to be your own leading lady.  You learn to make your own.  You learn to be yourself.   Every dribble, every let-down and lug, every lie you keep at your breast, is an errand of desire. I know that everything I have created has been for me, for this life.

I can’t, but I will. I will.   

Leah Umansky’s The Barbarous Century is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in 2018. She is also the author of the dystopian-themed Straight Away the Emptied World (Kattywompus Press, 2016), the Mad-Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014), and the full length, Domestic Uncertainties (BlazeVOX, 2012). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Boston Review, The Journal, and Thrush Poetry Journal. She is a graduate of the MFA Program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and teaches middle and high school English in New York City. More at www.LeahUmansky.com.

featured image via Axel and Sophie Steenberg.

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