by Emily Benson

Cold Front

I have swallowed so much
Fear, desire, 
Wild love and self-defeat, they 
Beat at the back of my throat
Moths against the porch light 
In the summers I remember, distant
Dreams of heat lightning 
As glittering lake-flung snow
Coats the cherry blossoms 
The sky grey and mauve
And the fierce white wind
Suddenly sweeps it all a
Clean, saturated blue
I will take this jewel-box moment 
The peace of kinship 
Sweet as the scent 
Of grape hyacinth 
Even as I shake and gasp 
With the cruel mutability of truth
The deep distance in this 
A subtle twist of the knife
Making it somehow more beautiful 
So that I don’t trust myself to speak 
For all that would pour forth from me
Sometimes I think you can hear me
Anyway, when we see eye to eye


In the courtyard of stones
Where I must have been before
But I can’t remember
And I cannot cry
The wind sings through me
Because I wear no coat
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
And I feel just like a ripple
In the old rain barrel
By her back door
Just like a chalk drawing
On the driveway in the summer
Her final piece of advice
Was to put out a lace tablecloth
On St. Patrick’s Day 
And I’m trying to sort 
The important from the trivial
Pack them into boxes
Move it all
All the furniture
From room to room
From house to house
As all the old places
Come down from their pedestals
And the scale of every relationship shifts
What will our little ones remember
Of this itinerant age
Will they know the feeling
Of pressing their ears
To iron floor grates
Listening to the murmur of grownup voices
Until they doze and tiptoe to bed
Under sloping eaves and quilts
How long will they sleep in our old rooms
And what will they take from us
The photo albums and bone china
The carved cameos from Rome
The rubbings of names and dates
Pressed in an old book
Long after the rain 
Wears them away
From the stone

Gell Center

I stand in sun surprisingly warm
Pausing in my slow trudge
Pausing the crunch of the crust of snow
Mounded in hillocks so white
Whiter than I’d remembered it could be
On an afternoon like this
And I listen to the creek whispering
The trickle of water over cold stones
Over lost leaves of red oak and white pine 
[A memory from summer camp long ago:
White pine needles
Are the best to camp on
Because they’re long and soft]
The water says, “Remember your blood.”
I don’t know what it means
But I listen
Movement suddenly stilled catches my eye
A round, ruddy chipmunk stands on a stone 
He is unknowable
A soft alien from the world of which I’m part
Yet so often find I’m lost to
His gaze makes me feel
Like the fly buzzing insensate 
Against the panes of our room
Somehow present at the wrong time
Yet of the place, too
I move on
Bare grape vines catching at me
Gripping my sleeve as I climb
As I startle a grouse 
Its wings loud as a hammer strike
My heart leaping to my throat
Again, I realize, amazed that it had descended
After this morning’s fears
My breath is quick
From the climb 
Up the slick slope to the ridge
I am exultant, exhausted, moved, weary
Childlike, walking in the woods
Though my aching lower back mocks that feeling
I return full of words
Wanting them all captured, contained
Wanting to drown out everything
To remember my blood

Emily Benson (she/her) lives in Western New York with her husband and two sons. She has appeared in Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Blue River Review, Five Minute Lit, Hecate Magazine, Hey, I’m Alive Magazine, High Shelf Press, Moist Poetry Journal, Paddler Press, Pastel Pastoral Magazine, Sad Girls Club Literary Blog, The Dillydoun Review, and others. Her work can be found at