New Year’s Eve in Dresher, Pennsylvania
Idle in the gas station parking lot, the old grief
cycles through me. I turn the dial on the radio,
cruising each channel, not landing in one place.
Years ago this was a Chinese restaurant
and before that it was a scrap-wood shed,
pools of young cows thickening
the soft edge of the field at night. Junes ago
I was still the boy your hair grew longer for.
In spring, I learned to be still to catch
what wing of you the season could give.
Even now, removed from our city, your grainy
voice takes shape in the passenger seat,
exigent as the trucks that rattle the lampposts
on this side of the highway. I turn the key
in the ignition and will myself to drive to a party—
the holes in the backroads shining, indented
like the skins of fruit neglected too long—
and I look up at the stars, which said
so little to me as a child, but whose stillness
instructs me in the persistent gift of burning.
Matthew Gellman is the author of Night Logic, selected by Denise Duhamel as the winner of Tupelo Press' 2021 Snowbound Chapbook Award. His first book, Beforelight, was selected by Tina Chang as the winner of the 2023 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from BOA Editions. A 2023—2024 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Matthew has also received awards and honors from Brooklyn Poets, the Adroit Journal's Djanikian Scholars Program, the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, the New York State Summer Writers Institute and the Academy of American Poets. His poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, Narrative, The Common, North American Review, Indiana Review, New South, Ninth Letter, Lambda Literary's Poetry Spotlight and other publications. Matthew holds an MFA from Columbia University and lives in New York, where he teaches at Hunter College and the Fashion Institute of Technology.