Bethany’s poems have appeared in national journals such as Witness, Nimrod, New York Quarterly, Spoon River, and many more. Please enjoy a few from her collection:
The Life We Chose and the One We Didn’t
This morning I looked out on our small lawn
and saw the deck, covered in a blanket of leaves,
Azalea’s plastic kitchen moldy, its sink overflowing
with twig, rain soup. And the garden beds the two of you built
some weekend I was away, sit quietly in what was then the sunniest spot,
and is now gray and misty. The mountain hasn’t moved,
rising as it always has, just outside of these rooms,
browning our valley with the ordinary impermanence of fall.
This is the life we have chosen: a marriage, a place, a million meals,
reaching for each other, another person living in our house.
A mess. Darkness tucked inside of darkness.
Light made invisible by light.
as if there is any other way
to listen. But with the radio
broken, the little house
of my car mirrors the pitch
of soundlessness I hear all the time,
that crunch of wheels over snow,
driving up a hill, pines
edging the road, as I call
to the ones in the houses
I pass, the ones I wonder
about all the time. What
do you hear? Me?
Giving Birth to Dead Things
Like this morning, and how you traced the smell,
then opened up the basement wall
just enough to hold a mirror on the blind side of it,
and shine a light in the right direction
to reflect what was lying there
in the dirt of the crawlspace,
that dark, silent edge,
that any body moves through and against, dark to itself,
yet reaching toward some scent of illumination,
colliding with whatever it is that maintains mass
as something separate from dreams—
the fog that fills the space otherwise
too putrid to bear. And through the hole you made,
your gloved hand pulled the body out
by the tail. You passed me the light, and I held it
along the bloated trunk, grey fur, little masked face, delicate hands, clawed thumbs
the whole of its way-seeking life, decayed and yet complete
in its decay, the hollow thud of impact
as you slid it onto the plastic tarp, then covered it.