Poetry: Standard Time by Julie Benesh

Think of it as mood lighting. Even alpha Apollo
needs a rest. Even if you merry Christmas
with the best of them, strip a Christian and out pops
a naked pagan, pious in their own way, loins warming
by the fire. We are not equatorial, so follow

me as spring follows winter, slow yet relentless,
inevitable as death. The best holidays are clustered
where we need them, around the darkest times of year
when ritual promises renewal. Cuffing season, the kids
call it. Fanning out to frame them, the glowing wreath
of minor constellations: Gothic Halloween, shadowy
Groundhog Day; (its commercial cousin, red-teddied
Valentine, shaking their bootie for good measure);
fractals equidistant between solstice and equinox.

You say: summer bodies are forged in winter.
I say: we need energy to hibernate. Have more stuffing
and another piece of pie; let that blood sink out of your brain
and into your gut. In six month’s time, that great lake—arctic,
berged with ice—will keep us cool, while the rest of the city swelters.

Julie Benesh is recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Grant and graduate of Warren Wilson College’s Program for Writers. Her writing can be found in Bestial Noise: A Tin House Fiction Reader, Tin House Magazine (print), Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Gulf Stream, Hobart, Cleaver, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and many other places. Read more at juliebenesh.com and reach her at juliebnsh@gmail.com.

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