Issue #2: My Cabin Never Leaks When It Doesn’t Rain, Gemma Cooper-Novack

My Cabin Never Leaks When It Doesn’t Rain

If you’ve learned one thing
from a lifetime in America it’s probably
that the nation is full of corners. That it’s easy
to love a hundred square feet beyond
all measure, to lay them out again and
again and cover the horizon like
linoleum. So let’s say

you’ve fallen for a woman from a state
you’ve never even been to. One lover and Arkansas
become a syrup-thick desire to dive
into her past, so you wonder over and over
what the Ozarks really look like, why
you named your werewolf alter ego “Little Rock”
when you were eight. You start fixing
the letters A-R-K into everything, hum as
you wash the dishes Oh, once
upon a time in Arkansas
… Let’s

say you want to catalogue your questions and
answers when you find them, offer
them to her wrapped, insist
that they’re delicious. If you’ve learned one
thing from America it’s that to love is
to overtake. Americans like you map and tuck
themselves beneath crevasses, spend long
nights on plains cleared by their oxen and
their fire, naming stars and stars. Then let’s say
you hand her songs and mythos back to her
as if they’re yours to give, singing An old man sat

at his little cabin door … You know then you’ve
spent a lifetime being of this country and this
is how you know to want her.


Gemma Cooper-Novack is a writer, educator, and writing coach who lived in New York, Chicago, and Ghana before moving to Boston. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in more than a dozen journals, including Ballard Street Poetry Journal (Pushcart Prize nomination), Cider Press Review, Hanging Loose, Santa Fe Writers’ Project, and Printer’s Devil Review. Gemma’s plays have been produced in Chicago and New York. She has been awarded artists’ residencies in Catalonia, Miami Beach, and New York, and enjoys baking cookies and walking on stilts.


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