The Take

The Take: Samn Stockwell

On Radiation

She ended her story: my father
placed a bomb in our truck and this made me
feel bad. The bomb didn’t go off, she
forgave him, as no one encouraged her to do,
I hope, and now she stutters –
the self keeps interrupting,
searching for more bombs.

She’s a radiologist, she has
migraines and children, and
her husband hauls nights,
trucking supplies, and she
wants to be a medical coder –

the orderliness of
labels, a box for each
recalcitrant patient.

She must have been
recalcitrant or her mother
would have shielded her
from her father
instead of sending her
unarmed to get her toys
and clothes from him.

Someone could wield
a safe place in the world of bombs
and balky children, but forgets,
forges a story without an inside

Poet’s Statement:

A student told me a version of this story. Everything about her anxiety and her apologetic hesitancies was as though she was perpetually living in this moment of her childhood. She had grown up without being able to see the event at any distance, like a tree with an enormous burl obscuring its center. Words can transfigure horrors and make them something that can be re-examined, but that event for her was more ever-present cloud than examined object.

Editor’s Statement, by Jonah Meyer, Poetry Editor :

Stockwell’s poem portrays a haunting, potent, compact illustration of a woman who has suffered greatly and whose past trauma continues, to this day, to shape—indeed to limit—her worldview and expression. A tragic vignette into the life of the subject, not a single word in the creation of this poem goes unused, nor fails to serve impactful purpose. Also of incidental interest: Though Mud Season Review enjoys at this point national and even international scope, it’s nice when the poem under consideration which has sparked our intrigue comes from a Vermonter, bringing the great, wide circle back home.

By Samn Stockwell

Samn Stockwell has published in Agni, North American Review, and the New Yorker, among other publications. Her new book, Musical Figures, is published by Thirty West Publishing House. Her two previous books, Theater of Animals and Recital, won the National Poetry Series (USA) and the Editor’s Prize at Elixir, respectively. She won the Massachusetts Poetry Festival First Poem prize, was selected as the editor’s choice at Panoply, and was the editor’s choice for Brain Mill Press. Recent poems are in On the Seawall and Sugar House Review,and are forthcoming in Ploughshares and others.