Amy Strauss Friedman

Amy Strauss Friedman is the author of the chapbook Gathered Bones Are Known To Wander (Red Bird Chapbooks). She is a regular contributor to the newspaper Newcity and a staff writer for Yellow Chair Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kentucky Review, Red Paint Hill, FLAPPERHOUSE, Lunch Ticket and elsewhere. Amy earned her MA in Comparative Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Chicago and teaches English at Harper College. Her work can be found at amystraussfriedman.com.

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What I Would Salvage in a Fire

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I’d lay hands on the mistakes

I haven’t made

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the steady, mind-numbing

jobs I’ve hoarded

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and the mean thoughts

I keep to myself.

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I’d haul the weighty photos

of family gatherings

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gritty as sandpaper

and saltwater soaked

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in heaving, throaty secrets;

couched, vacant glances

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that lay like parking lots

between the eyes,

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and cradle them while

stumbling out of the smoke.

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And the candy red

sweater you bought me

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when you didn’t know

that I’m not a candy girl.

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I’ve earned the right

to burn them all myself.

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There’s an economy of words

that feels wrong here

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and too much to rescue that

I can’t reach.

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There are always more layers

of ink beneath the surface

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than the skin suggests.

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The Eggshell Skull Rule

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“The injurer takes his victim as he finds him and is therefore liable for the full extent of the injury even if unforeseeable…” – Rardin v. T & D Mach. Handling Inc.

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I am as you find me,

a riddle maddening and impossible.

Magic has its beginnings in soil

desperately waiting for rain.

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Locks against external danger

hide internal injuries.

Upon entrance, you own them all.

I know you read the menu

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taped to the steel guard post.

What’s unlisted is all that matters

and everything you can’t imagine.

Do you need a narrator

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for next steps? Love is never

that kind. Or any kind, really,

other than an unknowable

underneath. A sub-surface city

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of ant tunnels. We carry loads

larger than ourselves to build

shelter from danger

and are responsible for the collapse

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of civilizations forged by the small

as often as the strong. For every

passageway leads to potential

and to poison. We drink

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what we can reach,

and are grateful.

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