Where were you when the world broke?


Not in your echoing womb,
to scream at you across your fields to wake up,
not part of your denial that Earth is burning,
dehydrated, suffocating on itself—
I stood in a blue state
while you bled the red of its people—(Our people: recall how they grew up
across Holt Street, Maple Street from us, yes?)—
delusional that you were the world’s own,

I was not your spit-take,
the drop bucket,
flag-raising, barn-burning,
white-hooded bonfires.

I was in my high school art class,
kicking my feet on a stool when JFK was shot, Mom says.
I even remember what I was painting when they made the announcement.

It’s like that.
I was hiding my face in my fingers,
my faith in my chest,
my heart torn from the fabric of my sleeve,
counting to convince math to work,
to STEM for little girl petals becoming,
but numbers broke each column

I was in my room, alone, when we were told we didn’t matter,
that our pussies could be grabbed,
that we were only droughting from Chinese hoax.

We’ll remember where we were.

I was holed inside myself disconnecting my umbilical from what you became,
the land I used to color with my mother’s paints,
before wrong hues muddied,
absence of color, symbol of stop and no and postage due,
white always showing underneath the red.


Leah Angstman is a transplanted Michigander, unsure of what feels like home anymore. She is the recent winner of the Loudoun Library Foundation Poetry Award and serves as Editor-in-Chief for Alternating Current Press and a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals, including Los Angeles Review of Books, Tupelo Quarterly, Electric Literature, Midwestern Gothic, Atticus Review, and Shenandoah. She can be found at leahangstman.com and on Twitter @leahangstman. More from this author →