Amanda Shaw

Love at 24

And that’s it: the ear attuned
 to silences, a locked canal
leading to the throat. Sore,

I try to speak, it just gets
worse. But also, sometimes, soaring—
a vision of when the love was new,

dropped in my path. Late
 to school, unable to walk
past a broken bird; looking

for a shoebox, anything
 to keep alive what’s going
to dwindle to oblivion. And I

was happy. It’s the original
 pathetic fallacy. Wings break;
birds die; a decade later

I’m waking up to I’d do you
 in a houseboat. Or have you do me
Change of subject. He wishes 

he could be funny
 in the deep way, not so foolish,
and I think he is; he makes

me laugh. Saddest thing in the world,
 to fail to laugh
when someone you love

thinks a joke is really funny. Sad,
 but funny, like falling out of the boat
that was going to take us

back. Was going to call, forgot.
 Didn’t want to? Memory recalls
the phone quiet, recalls

the inflamed throat. Who knows
 what I’d have said? Instead,
I kept myself from telling him

the saddest funny thing I read today,
 a doctor repeating a man’s last words:
not I love you or a name on his lips

but a rasp, “Oh fuck, oh fuck.”
My love, today I looked for houseboats,
which can float or move slowly

downriver via canals. They can go far 
 but not very fast; most canals
don’t get that deep. You’ll get much further

flying, which we’d have to do
 if we want to see each other
and there’s nowhere left 

to land: it’s one deep thing
 we never have to say. How we both love
water, though; running, sluicing,

shining; even brine. Once we needed it
 so badly, sitting in the car
after years apart, we had to stop

and I drank 
 that big gulp in one long swallow
and still wanted more.

Love at 48


That boy and I will never clean glass
in the master bath, fully clothed, the dirt
of potted plants floating
at my callused feet. We’ll never commiserate

at soap-scum’s accumulation
on the outside of the doors. Lime for scurvy,
lime in milk, he galvanized
the follicles of my abdomen, we ate

Galapagos turtles, soup spooned
from the shells
of their boiled bodies. We ignored

This weekend, the toilet is leaking, source
unknown. That boy
has never returned from the hardware store
with a liquid whose enzymes delight me.

Amanda Shaw                          

Amanda Shaw set out into the world of adulthood, like most of us, with a vague idea of what was ahead. Since college she has lived in six different states and four countries. After 20+ years of teaching and editing, she received her MFA in January 2020. She became a caretaker for her mother three years ago, while continuing work as a freelance editor and teacher in various official and non-official capacities. She currently divides her time between New Hampshire, where she was born, and Washington, D.C. Her upcoming collection, It Will Have Been So Beautiful, is due out from Lily Poetry Review Books in March 2024.