Untitled Country Review (ISSN 2152-7903), published quarterly during 2010-2013, features poetry, book reviews, photography, and short works of non-fiction. Thank you for visiting.

Issue 6: Vanessa Blakeslee

by Paula Lietz

To Aaron

As the years pass,
we speak of you with more frequency,
rather than less.
Can you imagine that the living would speak
of the unborn that way?
Perhaps we speak of you more as the inevitability
of your absence solidifies into stone
with each passing year,
while our longing for you increases.

What would our lives have been like with you around?
No doubt you would have fallen mercy to my big-sister-bossing.
I might have turned you into Huckleberry Finn or the Tin Man
or, dear me, Almanzo Wilder.
Would you and Sissy have ganged up on me?
Would you have dragged me into the prickly pines
and forced my fingers around a football?

Even though we have never met,
I can see you as the third one of us:
light brown hair, slight frame, slim nose.
Would you have grey or brown eyes?

And I can guess why you didn’t come, after all—
the fighting, the selling of all the couches and toys,
the uncertainty but for good grades.
I forgive you.

But we miss you and hope to see you soon.
We speak of you often, as a family—
over wine and cheese at the Montreal Jazz Festival,
at weddings and at Christmas.
Did you hear?

David and Sean and the other cousins
stare at our sisterly snickers with strange love,
but you know them.

Aaron, we miss you.
We’re sorry we didn’t beg Mom for you.
That we thought each other would be enough.

Vanessa Blakeslee has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Yaddo, the Ragdale Foundation and the United Arts of Central Florida, and her work has appeared in The Southern Review, The Bellingham Review, and The Paris Review’s “The Daily” among others. She was a finalist for the 2011 Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University and the Sozopol Fiction Seminars. Her website is: www.vanessablakeslee.com.

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  1. I tried to write a poem on this same topic and I could never make if work. Thanks for this; it is beautiful :)

  2. Jessie, I am so glad you enjoyed this piece. Strong stuff, indeed.


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