For Betsy Fagin by Anna Gurton-Wachter

For Betsy Fagin

the bell signals the bell

the bell imitates the bell

ring, ring, ring, someone is calling you

I guess I have to learn how to

communicate with my daughters

by daughters I mean all of you

my lost sense of self

and playing at arriving

play arrival it makes me braver

like I’m mining blocks of butcher paper

what did I know of against?

what was myself?

here were pictures isolated

here were our faces, inroads

like habit like showing ourselves out

cocky little thing come here

I like how you pronounce yourself vulnerable, as if

just kidding, you say, I was always against and again

I’ve got enough mindful confidence for us all

and what would it mean for it not to be mindful?

one consequence is aesthetic limitations

mechanics of margin, listen, I contest that you

could absent yourself that much

really in 2019 you are telling me

that you wrote a poem without a self in it?

observations without judgements

do not exist but I’ll throw you a bone

I’ll plunge off a bridge

here is the evidence that I exist

pictures of people falling from burning

buildings, listen obviously in this century

to walk without a plan

is akin to indulging in rare luxury

scurry, scurry onwards

if I’m let go in an ecstasy of curiosity

and goodwill at least there’s no note of it

in linear time and you said

be surround, be empty

be contrast

learn about luck

what encourages it

with their own voices

arriving arriving arriving

the desire to move backwards

I felt mountains forming in my hands

it wasn’t a deduction

I’ll put the whole room in my mouth

I said, give me that much at least

being in love roughly

just to spend time with yourself

would that also

be called attachment?

Photo: Anna Gurton-Wachter

Anna Gurton-Wachter

Anna Gurton-Wachter is a writer, editor and archivist. Her first full length book, Utopia Pipe Dream Memory, is newly out from Ugly Duckling Presse in 2019. Other recent work has appeared in Peach Magazine and Vestiges. For more info visit /