Poetry: Gabriel by Kaitlyn Airy

Timelessly elegiac, “Gabriel” threads the speaker’s current moment of mourning and reflection alongside  a direct address to the poem’s namesake, generating a wrenching and veiled portrait of both the dead and the bereaved’s unresolvable struggle with suffering.


It will be easy to regret like this
the nimbus, gray and colossal
conspiring against noontime. How far
is the light? As far away
as the mind is dim.

Dusk draws like a curtain, bats
rise and scatter from unseen chasms,
the moon, jaundiced
swells horribly. I watch it
from my lone dominion, a kitchen
steeped in the ferment of oranges
fizzing from their soft wounds.

Gabriel, your eyes were blue
and brambled with childhood.
When your stepfather, vaporous
with moonshine, crashed his car
into a copse of trees and bled out
I was glad for it.

It’s dark now. A mockingbird
sounds a siren. Sleep is unreachable.
How foolish of me to think
he could not hurt you anymore.

In March I gathered your bottles
took them to the alley, smashed them
one by one so you wouldn’t see me cry.
You were inside, vomiting
in a bowl by your bed. At the end you said
I just wanted to be a good person.
You were a good person.

Pain does not make you stronger.
Pain is just pain.

Kaitlyn Airy

Kaitlyn Airy is a Korean American poet and essayist. She was raised on a small island in the Salish Sea and currently resides in Charlottesville, where she is an MFA student in poetry at the University of Virginia. She was the 2020 winner of the Phyllis L. Ennes contest, hosted by the Skagit River Poetry Foundation and was featured by Narrative Magazine as one of their 30 writers below 30. Her poems have been featured in Moss, Post Road, Poetry Northwest, Palette Poetry, Narrative Magazine, Poetry Online, and elsewhere. She serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Meridian Magazine and as an Editorial Assistant for Poetry Northwest.

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