The Story I Tell Myself Before Bed Every Night

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October 3, 2016 by The Citron Review

by Cheryl Kutcher

 

I begin, “Deported after a case of mistaken identity,”
because I heard that phrase as a writing prompt once

but that isn’t right. So I restart: “Deported after
a case of speeding.” And that is accurate but not

enough. “Deported after a case of identified
identity,” but that isn’t really right either

because they already knew who he was: he had
an unpaid ticket and a previous deportation.

But that’s not who he is. So I begin again: “Deported
after a case of desperation. Of separation. Of homesickness

so strong he would cross rivers, swim through traffic
in the trunk of a car. Deported after a case of existing.

Deported after living where he was unwanted. After living
on dry land. I know this because he told me. This is not

my story. I can’t have the luxury to imagine
deportation after a case of mistaken identity

because it assumes an absolution. This story
you prompt me to write—I can’t move past

the first line. Nothing waits for me at the end
of this clause. The author cannot come back

to finish what he started. This story has no end.
It does not help me sleep.

 

Cheryl Kutcher is an MFA Poetry student at Oklahoma State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gyroscope Review, Toad, Life and Legends, The Tower Journal, and Postcard Poems and Prose.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

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