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Rebe Huntman

DEAD MOTHER TOUR:

Moscow, 1983


She is 19 & drunk on Dostoevsky when she dreams


of walking the Volga. There will be snow dusting


the Kremlin & she will be dressed in black. The man,


slick with Marx & Mayakovsky, will take her hand as


they stand in line to see Lenin pickled in his tomb. Shoot


vodka with some men he knows. Later, in the eye


of night he will undress her, & as she thrills to the trill


of Pushkin pouring from his throat, she will catch


the reflection of her own eyes sparking in the moon of his


& believe this is all there is to love. Perhaps, if the mother


were alive, she might warn the daughter that the river,


the moon, are easy. It is the waking that is hard—


the man now distant at the edge of the bed & & you, left


with your own skin, stark & naked beneath the knife of day.




DEAD MOTHER TOUR:


Leningrad, 1983


after Ocean Vuong


What I need you to see is not


how Spring is stilled


by the click of the shutter—


the inadequacy of the girl’s


neckline torn like Alex


from Flashdance to reveal


her motherless throat,


or the two men—


strangers—propped


like exclamation marks


beside her on a park


bench piercing


the horizon


with their gaze,


but the hands holding


the camera that are


my father’s hands,


& the face squinting


into the sun that is


his daughter, his flesh.



Like all photographs


this one fails to tell


the story. Like where


the girl is thinking


of yet another man—


their tour guide sworn


to be their shepherd


in this foreign land.


How, not yet fluent


in the tricks of the moon,


she’d mistaken the flash


of conquest in his eyes


for love.



Or how,


when the trip


draws to a close,


the father


will slip


a bill


into his


pocket—


a tip


for showing


them all


a good time,



& the girl


will be too


ashamed


to stop him.


 

Rebe Huntman's poems, essays, and stories appear in such places as The Southern Review, CRAFT Literary, Ninth Letter, South Loop Review, Tampa Review, Quarter After Eight, Sonora Review, Juked, and The Pinch. The recipient of an Ohio Individual Excellence Award, she holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from The Ohio State University. Her debut memoir, My Mother in Havana, is forthcoming from Monkfish Books. Find her at rebehuntman.com and on Instagram @rebehuntman.




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