Amy Woolard – Laura Palmer Graduates


I can’t love them if their hands aren’t all tore up
From something, guitar strings, kitchen knives & grease

Burns, heaving the window ACs onto their crooked old
Sills come June. Fighting back. That porchlight’s browned

Inside with moth husks again & I can’t climb a ladder
To save my life, i.e., the world spins. Even when it’s lit,

It’s half ash. Full-drunk under a half-moon & I’m dazed
We’re all still here. Most of us, least. For the one & every

Girl gone, I sticker gold stars behind my front teeth so
I can taste just how good we were. I swear I can’t

Love them if they can’t fathom why an unlit ambulance
On a late highway means good luck. I hold my cigarette-

Smoking arm upright like I’m trying to keep blood
From rushing to a cut. What’s true is my shift’s over &

I’m here with you now & I’m wrapped up tight
On the steps like a top sheet like the morning paper

Before it’s morning. Look up & smile. What does it matter
That the stars we see are already dead. If that’s the case well

Then the people are too. Alive is a little present I
Give myself once a day. Baby, don’t think I won’t doll

Up & look myself fresh in the eyes, in the vermilion
Pincurl of my still heart & say: It’s happening again.

Poem chosen by Emilia Mirazchiyska

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Amy Woolard
Amy Woolard is a legal aid attorney working on civil rights policy & legislation in Virginia. Her debut poetry collection, NECK OF THE WOODS, received the 2018 Alice James Award from Alice James Books and was published in April 2020. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Fence, & elsewhere, while her essays and reporting have been featured in publications such as Slate, The Guardian, Pacific Standard, The Rumpus, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.