Gunilla Kester

The Verbless

How did you lose all your verbs?
I ask him and since he cannot tell me,
he begins to gesture, points to my kitchen,
the stove, the old broom, shaking his head.

Ahh! Many verbs you left behind at home;
I try to translate his verbless intent.

Your wife and daughters are sweeping
leftover verbs into a pile they cannot read,
hidden behind a door, next to the stove,
where they are protected and preserved?

He points out the window toward the beach
where waves break, break, break, a restless
gray sentence without end. Ahh! Some verbs
sank on your perilous journey, many more lost
among the murdered and the drowned
You still hear them scream in clear calls
against the smugglers and the storms.

He lifts my hands to his temples. Ahh!
Other verbs you lost track of in your memory.

Life forced you to abandon the joyful verbs,
the cool, strong, and the needed verbs
until your tongue became a migrant too.


Gunilla Theander Kester is an award-winning poet and the author of If I Were More Like Myself (The Writer’s Den, 2015). Her two poetry chapbooks, Mysteries I-XXIII (2011) and Time of Sand and Teeth (2009), were published by Finishing Line Press. Dr. Kester lives outside of Buffalo, NY. She has poems recently published or forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Pendemics, Slipstream, Silk Road Review, Great Lakes Review, San Pedro Review, Cider Press Review, and I-70. See more at