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  • Stars
  • Martha Shaffer (bio)

Text from Virginia Andrews, said she sawChris Gates's father in town, said it was

heartbreaking, said it made her think aboutnot moving, then made her think about

moving to New York, holding her childrentighter. In this poem I read, a father

sees his kid in a coffin and thinksit isn't him. Like they say,

we don't have anyone to blame, or is thattoo trivial, like how the Torah

prohibits worship of the stars but Israeliteswatched them anyway, pointed out

constellations to lovers and lookedfor what seemed real. Real is a body,

a thing you can touch, until you get closeand all you see is light and heat. Only thing

that lit the street the night Chris was gonewere stars; no one could see his body,

throbbing, lungs ripped and air gushinginto pavement. Maybe he could see

stars, could see his own body,its heat rising and clumping into ash. [End Page 73]

Seen a dead body three times and one's babywas in a car seat next to her, leg

in a cast. The family had the baby in black,rocked the car seat so she wouldn't cry

since that might be too much to bear.Don't know where that body went,

know they gave Chris a proper funeral,know the high school got the day off to go,

know my brother didn't go, know my motherdid, know sometimes I think if I touch my brother

I'll feel the minute he turns cold. When you getto be my age they drop like flies, he says.

Chris, Charlie, Corey. Different things in themerupt but they blend together,

form a shape, a constellation of their own.Tried to find Chris's obituary to reread and it was

archived, said I could pay $2.95 to have it revived.Hate to write about things like this but I needed

to know I could find him if I wanted to. [End Page 74]

Martha Shaffer

Martha Shaffer is a student at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. She is from Columbia, South Carolina.



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