Poetry: Selections from Emily Benson

Fall Away

There you go again, driving off in our battered hatchback. There you go to freedom and knowledge and possibility – off you go to grow. You go to grow and I stay home. I stay here, within the perimeter of screens, of these four walls, of the distance I can cover on my own two feet in the space of an hour. I sit here. I plan dinner, wait for the bus. I wash socks. I freeze and freeze in our front room where the heat doesn’t get to; where the baseboards are still missing; where you assure me there is insulation underneath but I don’t believe it because I can feel the cold seep through the smooth pine floorboards. I see the sky through the slats of the blinds on the window before me, see the clouds through the leaves of the ornamental cherry tree. I watch the leaves turn gold and fall away. I imagine those golden leaves, drifting, parts of me, falling – dreams sloughing off, falling away. I cast my thoughts out to the highway where you drive – see it spooling out ahead of you, all the way to the horizon and beyond; all the way to the ocean three thousand miles away. I drift, all heartache and wonder … another cherry leaf turns and tumbles to the cold ground.


A strong mind
Disciplined, driven
You dreamed of the stars
And worked to catch them
Achieved it, but
Little did you know
And now
By the absence of everything familiar
Who could have fathomed
Such abyss …
Eating away at reality
Reason, and other societal constructs
The drill whines
Punching a 2-milimeter hole into space
Madness soothed
As oxygen drains slowly away
You are as free as you allow yourself to be
Trapped only
By silence


When I was a kid
I thought “spooning” meant a sex thing
Now every night
We lie nested
First on our right sides
Then rolling together
(My belly button un-suctioning from your skin
With a soft sound that leaves me faintly embarrassed)
To our left
Where you cup my breast gently
Your hand sometimes twitch-squeezing
As you drowse
But last night
I came late to bed
And you seemed fast asleep
You stayed
Curled on your right
Leaving me to roll alone
Like a child
Missing the meaning


How can I sleep when it’s the end of days?
A night heron sounds its strange alien trill
In the dead dark
And after, the stars become brighter
Their light bouncing off the pewter lake
My heart floats
Under no moon

The Ant

Blank with anger
I leave the house
Walk until the water stops me
In and out
Gazing at the sapphire horizon stings my eyes
Stare instead at the patterns in the sand beneath my feet
Feel the hand of the day’s heat heavy on my head
Evaporating thought
I kick a mound of sand over a small red ant
Can’t bear to watch it
It looks trapped
Running in tiny circles
Climbing and falling
Again and again
It is mercy or disgust that pushes me to bury it?
I regret the act instantly
Try to reason that the species can lift many times their body weight
But really
Even such strength
Can only endure so much

Emily Benson (she/her) lives in Western New York with her husband and two sons. Previous publications include Daily Drunk Mag’s “Marvelous Verses”Anthology, High Shelf PressMoist Poetry JournalPaddler Press, and The Dillydoun Review.