McKayla Conahan


We do not go to the ghetto, where the children’s drying clothes
hang on the barbed wire like examples, but burrow, instead,
between the roots of spruce, at daybreak learn to shoot
with the weapons Vitka brings. She’s wrapped in a fur coat,
the forest, lining train tracks with explosives,
gripping her pistol, asking Abba, “Do you remember when you taught me
how to hold a machine gun in my hands?” Crawling out of the woods at dawn,
snowy garlands in her hair. Poisoning three thousand loaves of bread
to feed the soldiers in void-black. Those mouths that never
knew such hunger melting over yeast and arsenic, those fingers pulling
the bread apart in the gentlest act they have ever known. Oh Vitka get your gun.
Under the duff, in our bunkers, we hold our breaths until the black boots
of deer march away.


McKayla Conahan is a queer non-binary writer from South Carolina currently working as a stargazing tour guide in Wyoming. They got their degree in Astronomy from the College of Charleston, and will be attending VCU in the fall for their MFA in Poetry. They have been published in Fall Lines, Rabbit, Sink Hollow, and elsewhere, and have won the South Carolina Student Poetry Prize and the Susan Laughter Meyers Scholarship. Their favorite sweet is green tea mochi ice cream. It tastes like how a perfect spring day on the water feels.

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