Change of Address
It was raining the night I left the base,
my belongings shoved in the back
of a green pick-up, everything wet.
At 16, I hadn’t thought of a tarp.
I put trash bags full of clothes on top
of the mattress, blocked the stereo buttons
with a pillow so they might still work
when I got to my mom’s across town.
When the truck pulled away from the house,
the headlights cutting diamonds onto the road,
I looked back thinking I might see my father,
but that night he never left his room. And after
that night, I never came back. The house
might as well have been empty.
The Last Birthday Party
Six days after the towers fell,
fifteen candles on a box strawberry cake
at my boyfriend’s house because no guests —
none at all — were allowed that week on base.
We hadn’t been careful enough
to let the cake cool. At least it wasn’t
her sweet sixteen, my boyfriend’s mother said,
the pink frosting a mess on her plate.
Emily Lake Hansen (she/her) is the author of Home and Other Duty Stations (Kelsay Books) and the chapbook The Way the Body Had to Travel (dancing girl press). Her poetry has appeared in 32 Poems, Hobart, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Atticus Review, and the Shore among others. The recipient of the 2022 Longleaf Poetry Fellowship, she lives in Atlanta where she is a PhD student at Georgia State University and an instructor of English at Agnes Scott College.