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Poem: 'Closer to Sundown'

Mitch Teich

Milwaukee poet and Lake Effect contributor Jenny Benjamin, reading Closer to Sundown.

Closer to Sundown 

Are those willo-the-wisps to lead me along a new path?
Or has the water tricked my eyes to believe in myth?
These feathers, really leaves making golden pillow puddles,
take shape, and will they fade with sunset at the close of day?

I see my mother’s patient face teaching me to roll dough,
get out a stain, swing a station wagon on a dime turn.
Then two-by-two my older daughters walk, the youngest
trailing in a band of light spanning water and a seam
of endless green.

My fingers touch their shadows on the ground.
I look and see all there is to see: children living
in a theory of vines climbing red brick
not knowing where the twists will lead,
and I want to hold them


like this

in my hand

but they go like words meeting the universe and disappearing.

Instead of stricken to a stop, I proceed, as if my tendons, sinew,
and muscles are not collapsing, a report to the ever-changing.
My bones, I wear around my neck to mark the transformation.
I am a selkie shedding waxy skin into pools of coming midnight.

Girls, let me enter your shadows on the spring green.
I will teach you how to feel the orange glow of falling sun
and the hours sung from cardinal song.
I’ve found this is the perfect world for growing older
or growing up: miniature landscapes of cascading gold
and silver dawns, where here we move through folds
of light.

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Jenny Benjamin is an award-winning poet and novelist. Over 30 of her poems have appeared in journals, including DIAGRAM, South Carolina Review, Fulcrum, Baltimore Review, Chelsea, and the Crab Orchard Review. Her first novel, This Most Amazing, was published in 2013 by Armida Books in Nicosia, Cyprus. Her poetry chapbook, More Than a Box of Crayons, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.