The News by Catherine Zickgraf

The TVs bolted to the low ceiling are muted.  
            Closed captioning appears on the screens 
                        hanging over humming treadmills and 
smashing weights. I’m desperate to run from my
            kids’ sadness. I am rearing them alone while  
                        husband’s at war. I will only run in place, 
though, as evening sunlight angles through the YMCA 
            windows. I stretch hamstrings and calves, arms and
                        neck. “Israel discovers Hamas tunnel inside its 
border,” the text says. They’re coming for us next, 
mouths the anchor inside all the TVs. Surely the 
                        tunnel’s low ceiling presses the tunneler’s face 
into the floor as he’s slithering through the denseness 
            of dark. I step up to the machine, start walking in 
                        place. Zeal seems to supersede claustrophobia, 
I conclude. The drama of death follows the drama of life 
            when you’ve spent your life at war. I imagine existing 
                        somewhere between life and death. I’m afraid of both, 
and sometimes I’m numb to both. The broadcast segues 
            smoothly into a photograph of a hometown hero: young 
                        man, stoic-jawed, olive-drabbed, dead. But around the 
room, no one else flinches or steps off their machines to 
            brace hands on knees, hearts racing under ribs. I haven’t 
                        seen my husband in months. And after we get him back, 
he deploys again. Evening news can kick the breath out 
            of my chest. I steady myself against the wall then decide 
                        instead to pace the parking lot, smoking another cigarette.  
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

About the Poet:

Catherine Zickgraf’s main jobs are to write poetry and fold laundry. Her work has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, PankVictorian Violet Press, and The Grief Diaries. Her recent chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press. 

Read and watch her at

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