Poet’s comments: My work tends to revolve around some combination of science, death, parenting, and religion (notably, the absence of it). I chose the form because I wanted to call to readers’ minds Dante’s Comedia, especially the Inferno, as the story I tell feels a bit like “Virgil to Dante in Hell” and I’m a quasi-guide to the girls with the face of death before us. The poem’s content specifically points to my problems with the idea of a life to come.
By Adam Tamashasky
The kindergartner from across the street
sees us standing in our ivy, staring down. She comes over.
At our feet lies a Carolina chickadee, black and white, dead.
Because we spent spring with a bird guide and feeder,
“Poecile carlinensis,” says my kindergartner as her friend looks on.
The friend looks up at me. “Do you think it’s in heaven now?”
My daughters look at her, heads turned like curious birds.
The friend might well have asked if I thought
the chickadee might borrow my car keys later.
“Do I think it’s in heaven now?” I repeat, stalling.
As with the rest of my life, I have three paths:
what I want to say, what I do say, and what I’ll say I say.
I wanted to take the friend by her shoulders and turn her to the chickadee:
No, the bird is not in heaven. No, there is no heaven. No, you will not see heaven.
You will never see these things again; the world has us for a moment, no more.
I wanted the children to press their palms against its doughy breast and feel the nothing
in their hands. I wanted them to then put their palms against their own hearts.
I wanted them to then put their palms to one another’s hearts.
Adam Tamashasky (of Maryland) teaches at American University, in Washington, D.C. His poetry has appeared in Delmarva Review, The Cold Mountain Review, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, and 491 Magazine. He grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and went to the University of Dayton for his undergraduate degree and to American University for his MFA.
“Delmarva Review” publishes the best of original new poetry, nonfiction, and fiction selected from thousands of submissions annually. The independent, nonprofit literary journal is partially supported by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. The print edition is available from Amazon.com and Mystery Loves Company, in Oxford. Website: DelmarvaReview.org.