Two poems by Benjamin Harnett

Gerontion

For the longest time I thought it was
a flower. That’s gentian, imbecile.
“Fuck you, T.S. Eliot,” I say.
Snow on the mountain. Strands

of perfect white spooling through sand.
She says it is distinguished,
a silver hue, and there are only a few.
After an afternoon of gardening,

on the bench by the fountain:
she had reached up to brush
some dried dirt from my cheek.
Following a salt-and-pepper trail

to my temple, “First I’ve seen.”
In the mirror, she’s right. I blame
Trump. I guess it is like a flower,
shocking from its bud.

We scraped a furrow with fingers
rutting the hard clay, a dash of peat,
bone meal, the handful
of blonde, spiky seeds. Good

topsoil to finish it, and plenty
of water. Only a few
will make it. A few
is all we need.

 

 

 

Just Last Week

Just last week the squirrels
were cropping grass to make their dreys,
funnel nests they pile up
in the forks of trees.
One juvenile I caught unaware
on the railing of our porch, each tense,
panting breath
repeating dents in its sides,
like a constant pinch, or the dimples
in your cheeks.
What a pelt, so soft and gray.
The stoic, whiskered mouth,
a squirrel is constant worry, interrupted
by play. I put my hands up, one
holding my keys. No harm, I mumble,
I pass, it turns fast, scrabbling,
then leaps away.
Sometimes when I look at the river,
shades of blue and purple
and aquamarine, the ripples
moving backward
with the waving of the trees…
sedges have edges, rushes are round,
the hollow grass, pale reeds;
I worry the dog will get one
and shake it dead. Life is calm,
and green, and blue,
and red.

 

 

 

Benjamin Harnett, born 1981 in Cooperstown, NY, is a fiction writer, poet, historian, and digital engineer. His essays, poems, translations, and short stories have recently appeared in Alabama Literary Review, Brooklyn Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Tahoma Literary Review, Dead King Magazine, Lime Hawk, and Moon City Review. He holds an MA in Classics from Columbia University and lives in Beacon, NY with his wife Toni and their pets. In 2005, he co-founded the fashion brand Hayden-Harnett. He currently works at The New York Times. 

 

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