Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest
Was sticky in the streets & I wanted to linger
in the theater with the girls on the screen:
girls called girls for a reason: soft, tragic, funny,
swimming in sweaters that could last a lifetime,
like Diana’s black sheep knit the year she flirted with the horse guy.
But it was midnight. Time to blast our bodies
through the tunnel. That night I wanted to walk for hours
instead, not because the subway was hot
or crowded and certainly not unsafe, but because
it was one of those nights when the outside air
belongs inside and the inside, outside, and it appears
all our structures, even our cells, had failed their most basic function,
to keep the insides, inside, and the outside, out;
The way our rooms fail us now, a two-inch band of ants
appearing next to our air-conditioner; they’ve taken wings,
in hope and preparation for a colony. It’s a poor choice.
Pushing them outside an act of mercy.
Many will not make it.
& so, the night Diana died I walked twenty scorched blocks
until my shoes gave out, like in the blues songs &
I was somewhere strange & it was two
before I made it up the flight of my little breadbox, turned
on the radio and heard how Diana had gone
into another tunnel and not come out. Just
that day I’d been arguing with a friend about the royals &
their worthlessness & now there she went and was gone.
The words ended but the voice went on,
top of the hour, announcing the weather &
that her dying would go on & on &
I listened for hours, open-mouthed. Come morning I still
had no one to meet and nowhere
to be. I used to think the worst fate was this,
to be a being with no people. I now know this
to be true, and yet, that night
did not last, it was not the only night that has tilted
into vision & there have been thousands of tunnels
in the years since that night & not one of them
has swallowed me whole.
Laura Tanenbaum writes, “‘The Night Diana Died’ is part of a chapbook entitled Dear Mother which weaves together meditations on private and public and forgotten griefs. Poems from this chapbook and other of my poems have appeared in Rattle, Catamaran, Aji, Trampoline, and other venues. I have also published essays, book reviews and short fiction in publications including The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, Entropy, and Cleaver Magazine. I teach creative writing, composition, and literature at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York.”