How Far Away We Are

Anushka Shah

After “How Far Away We Are,” by Ada Limòn

So we might understand each other better,I've given up on trying to listen for birdsin the morning. But, I am never without them.The internet is a pocket forest: a green parrotnamed Tico who harmonizes in soaring vibratoto classic rock songs, woolen baby emperor penguinswith prehistoric feet, potoo birds whose fluty songshaunt even after their diamond mouths close,a raven named Fable who inflates her blue-black headfeathers before she declares practiced "Mwahs!"in the same tone as her keeper, and a cockatielwho sings an Apple ringtone (you know the one)when it's upset. How incredible it is that they allperch together. How to tell you: It's been years sinceI've wanted to die, but I still don't understand whysometimes it feels so difficult to brush my teeth,start my day, end my day. Why I always miss you,but sometimes I can't even think of you. Why, whenwe are separated, when my mind is difficult,birds are easy. Today, after watching ten videosof hummingbirds before noon, I feel light enough to pushoff my comforter's irresistible smother and flit aroundthe house. I want the whir of a sequined green body,red-adoring eyes, and narrow tongue coiling into skull,as much as I want the steady sleep-twitch of yourwarm body pressed against me. I'm passing this ideato you: One day, maybe we could plant zinniasand cardinal flowers in a ruby cluster and waitfor hummingbirds to unfurl and flick their tonguesinto an easy sweetness. We could fill two glasseswith cold water and put them on the nightstand.We could watch together, even on a palm-sized screen—floating swans, a white, crested pet pigeon waddlingherself to bed, sprinting ostriches, a parakeet fatherinsistently squawking, "iloveyoubabies gonnafeedthebabies."

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

Anushka Shah is a poet and medical student. She is from Pittsburgh, and now lives in Philadelphia. Her work is forthcoming or featured in the The Gettysburg Review, JAMA, and through Penn State University’s Leonard Steinberg Award.


Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg College

Mark Drew

Managing Editor
Lauren Hohle

Founding Editor
Peter Stitt

The Gettysburg Review, published by Gettysburg College, is recognized as one of the country’s premier literary journals. Since its debut in 1988, work by such luminaries as E. L. Doctorow, Rita Dove, James Tate, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wilbur, and Donald Hall has appeared alongside that of emerging artists such as Christopher Coake, Holly Goddard Jones, Kyle Minor, Ginger Strand, and Charles Yu.

More than one-hundred short stories, poems, and essays first published in The Gettysburg Review have been reprinted in the various prize anthologies—The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, The Best American Poetry, Essays, Mystery Stories, and Short Stories, New Stories from the South, as well as Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards—or have reappeared in such esteemed publications as Harper’s. In addition, The Gettysburg Review’s editing, elegant design, and stunning graphics have earned numerous prizes, including a Best New Journal award and four Best Journal Design awards from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, and a PEN/Nora Magid Award for Excellence in Editing.

We invite you to share in and support our endeavor by submitting to, reading, and, most importantly, subscribing to The Gettysburg Review. With its award-winning editing, writing, and design, The Gettysburg Review is, as one reader put it, “Pure delight, every time.”

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.