“Gusti” by Laura Felleman

Across from the widow hunched
By a hundred plus years
Hang two photographic portraits
Her breakfast companions

A full-color, middle-aged man
Smiles through a beard
Chin in his hand
Open to all that’s outside him.

A black-and-white, elderly man
Gestures as he lectures
Perched on a desk
Eyes on the floor of his classroom

She rolls her wrist

“My husband averts his gaze
He had many girlfriends
My son smiles at me
So I look at him
I wish he had been my husband.”

She points to a spot between her eyebrows
“It’s drying up in here.
There’s no blood flow.”

She buries her head in her hands
“It’s a terrible feeling
When the connection snaps.”

Behind her is a poster of a Viennese synagogue

“I stood apart from the crowd
Who chanted to torch it
My husband dragged
Inside with the others.
It was the only one the
Nazis didn’t burn
It had too many important
Buildings around it.”

She grins and I see
What remains of her teeth
She turns and I see
The kindness in her eyes

“You have a Du relationship with God,
Not a Sie.
You are certain of God.
I am certain that I’m not certain.”

She draws her thumb from
One side of her forehead to the other.
“It’s getting empty in here
The connection is lost.”


Currently, Laura Felleman is an accountant at the University of Iowa.  Before that, she was a seminary professor. Prior to that, she was a pastor.  She moved to Iowa City with her husband in 2016 and started writing poetry soon afterwards.  In order to learn this new craft, Laura attends the Free Generative Writing Workshops and participates in local poetry readings.

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