Alex Chertok

The parent’s prayer, after telling the child about the divorce

Let the future human heart morph into
whatever the nearest troubled one needs:
a rumble strip to wake the veering one,
or a saving wharf for a loneliness
to moor beside. Sutures for the blame-torn,
warmth for the one whose insides
fear lays its frozen hands against. One day
a heart will carry a warring other
back to the second before the gore mark:
that pre-thunder dumbness, before the sky lurked.
One day, hearts will speak. When a child’s asks,
Do you love me anymore? the father’s
will answer, How can I
any more
              than I do right now?

Alex Chertok has work published in The Kenyon Review Online, The Missouri Review, The Cincinnati Review, Third Coast, Copper Nickel, and Best New Poets 2016, among others. He was awarded a fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and completed his MFA degree at Cornell University, where he was also a Lecturer. He currently teaches at Ithaca College and through the Cornell Prison Education Program.




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