We discovered Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein in the Spring of 2004, when “stephen muruli dies in campus fire” appeared on our threshold, unannounced. The poem spoke for itself, appeared in Contrary that summer, and put us to wondering: who is this poet whose lines seem wired to the umbilical undercurrents of life? Amanda remained elusive. Our letters went unanswered, for she had vanished (... into graduate school, we later learned, to study arts in education). We had to content ourselves with what morsels we could find online, artifacts she had dropped in passing – leaving home is like a needle poking through the cervix, one poem told us, and though she was far from home, she tucked her teeth into the creases of our hands. (We can imagine other poets throwing their hands in the air before a Lichtenstein, resigning before the fresh, measured line, crisp off the tongue, bearing real pain.) After another year and a half of questing and peril, this poet allowed us to find her again. Here follows the fruit of our imploring, three poems. – ed.




Picture This  |  Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein



Coins and shoelaces
Car keys and clouds

Picture the day
You returned home

Father's dark toenail
Fell off, finally --

Placed on the mantel
Microscope close

Old men shed layers
Of skin and then

Picture the day
Your father dies

And you do not fly
Home – not yet.

A perilous sort of paralyzed
Two eyes, quizzical

A sorrow mirror:
Ghosts sleep in the shower.

First you turn off the lights.
Then you remember your toes.

Tickets arranged, click-click.
Airports full of asthma.

Your father is dead,
All his music stacked

High in sex-closets
Stuffed with feathers.

You box-drag endless
To the curb – and he

Coughs from the porch
Clapping his hands, windless.

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