Idra Novey

Before They Came For Us | Civilian Exiting the Facilities | Table for Six
April 13, 2012 Novey Idra

Before They Came For Us


They met in the woods below our homes, brought their sawed-off shotguns and rusted

knives, chucked their crushed Budweisers against the trees and greased their beards.

Even their laughter was bad. Even their thick feet filthy in their boots.  Did they know

about the busted window above our bunk beds, that we’d forgotten to close the garage

after we put our bikes away? That time by the creek, did we just pretend to drink the

dregs from their cans, or did we sip from them? Did we swallow?  Were all of them

empty?  Was that innocence or the end of it? Was it then we began to sneak into our

mother’s bed, that we began to watch her sleep?



Civilian Exiting the Facilities


Each week my body is fist-stamped and triple-scanned before it lands again in the

electoral world.  My mind takes longer to leave, stays in the elevator considering

the kind of crime it might be capable of. Would I have to be hungry. Could it

happen over nothing.  Could it happen nightly. In the shine of a car outside the

prison my reflection gets wider until it splits. In one likeness the face I recognize.

In the other my face.



Table for Six


In two chairs sit the victims. In another, sits the person who did the worst a person

can do to another. The other three chairs contain their mothers. The pages in their

menus keep sticking together and smell of bureaus. At last, someone addresses the

napkins, which are burning.  And the napkins answer: this may be the only table

you’ll ever know.

Idra Novey is the author of the debut novel Ways to Disappear, a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her poetry collection, Exit, Civilian was selected by Patri­cia Smith for the 2011 National Poetry Series. Her fiction and poetry have been translated into eight languages and she’s written for The New York Times, NPR’s All Things Con­sid­ered, Slate, and The Paris Review. She’s translated the work of several prominent Brazilian writers, most recently Clarice Lispector’s novel The Pas­sion Accord­ing to G.H.