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Friday, February 17, 2023


by Erin Murphy

"Children Under the Rubble" is a drawing by Mohammad Hayssam Kattaa.

“After natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and explosions, victims may survive in voids that are formed naturally in collapsed structures.” —Science Direct 
First, look for voids: 
bathtubs, stairwells, ribcages 
of infant cribs, the clumsy  
geometry of cantilevers and lean-tos  
from collapsed roofs, gaps  
beneath desks where small bodies 
just yesterday learned  
to add and subtract. 
Next, make your own voids: 
slide flat bags between rubble 
to inflate makeshift rooms  
of dusty birthday balloons.  
Finally, chisel dates in your  
mind: one week, one month,  
one year since you packed  
a lunch satchel and walked  
your only child to school.  
This is when the void finds you.  

Erin Murphy’s latest book of poetry Human Resources is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. She is professor of English at Penn State Altoona and serves as Poetry Editor of The Summerset Review