Mr. Abraham by Victoria Korth

Victoria Korth has earned an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2021 Poetry Contest

Photo looking up at a circle of doctors' faces
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Mr. Abraham

You would unstick huge floor-to-ceiling windows
with a metal-clawed broom handle,
soak the floor where someone vomited,
clear sleeted walks while we waited in line,

quiet the boiler, keep water
flowing in fountains, walk
around the school’s perimeter in faded green pants,
head down, and into the basement

while in the classroom, at the window
or in the hall I watched you.
Although I have lived the question
of how one person knows the other

and accepted that we did not,
been struck with sadness at the airless space
I allow between us,
I have also assumed

this privilege: I knew you, I did.
And when the priest intoned
through him with him in him, in the unity of the holy spirit,
I was certain you could name wind’s listing place

and because you knew
I worried less. A child’s perspective
still mistaken at center of it all, reaching out
to those who seem to care,

perhaps why,
on the last day of elementary school
I asked you to sign my journal with the light blue stripes,
sign as everyone had, and why

you took the pen in calloused fingers
for long seconds and—patiently, kindly—

drew a spindly X, marking us.


Victoria Korth
Victoria Korth is the recipient of the 2020 Montreal International Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Broad River Review, Ocean State Review, Tar River Poetry, LEON Literary Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Barrow Street, and widely elsewhere. Cord Color was released from Finishing Line Press in 2015. Tacking Stitch is forthcoming, 2022. She is an MFA graduate of the Warren Wilson College Program for Writers and holds an MA in English/Creative Writing from SUNY Brockport. She lives in Western New York State where she is a practicing psychiatrist caring for the chronically mentally ill.

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