After Reading “What Did I Love?” by Ellen Bass 

What frightened me about my time
on the farm? Let me start
with the death of it all, electric
fence plowing field, my great grandfather, 
mounted on a rusted tractor, 
sat me down one morning
when I was old enough to play
secret spy and yard restaurant
on my own. He said, Don’t touch this. 
The first time I had a friend over
I impressed her by posing my hand
to the shape of the braided wire, 
almost touching, 
said, This could kill you. 
The only family photo before the time
of eleven great-grandchildren
and persistent mothers posing us into perfection
consists of my great grandparents, 
two of their four children, and the carcass
of a buck strung upside down. 
Living on a farm means not only looking
the whole truth in its eyes, 
but also having pride in it. 
I learned this at six, my hand a mouth
curled around death, 
ready to bite.

KARA GOUGHNOUR is a queer writer and documentarian currently unpacked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the 2018 winner of the Gerald Stern Poetry Award and has work published or forthcoming in Third Point Press, Riggwelter Journal, Terror House Magazine, and others. Follow her on Twitter @kara_goughnour or read her collected and exclusive works at