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This poem is taken from PN Review 184, Volume 35 Number 2, November - December 2008.

Seven Poems Sheri Benning


Near the River

Three years later, you see her. The child who called Mama!
every day, late afternoon. Her voice rose in the courtyard

beneath your bedroom window - first snow, pigeon down, wet newsprint,
and the oil-stain of night seeping over the embankment of the Neva. Mama!

and you look up from where you sit now, near the Saskatchewan river,
its hills like the flanks of running horses. Grasses pared

by summer's last heat. Between your fingers
you roll chokecherries, blood-shot pouches of skin

beneath tired eyes. The dusk moon, exhaled breath
of a whitetail, is snagged on aspens, Mama! and you watch

her run down the steps, two at a time, into her mother's arms.
You feel her small body, the warm heave of her chest

as she leans into her mother's thighs like that moth-flutter
of pulse you once held inside. Mama! Chokecherry pulp

has stained your fingers red, and as you walk away,
...


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