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This article is taken from PN Review 263, Volume 48 Number 3, January - February 2022.

from Let Them Rest Sheri Benning
NE 36 19 23 W2nd

    Two attic bedrooms, plaster and lathe, cotton candy pink, baby bird blue.
          A wooden rocking chair, missing spindles. Torn-out
                pages from Little Red Riding Hood

hackles, incisors, the ravening wolf.

    Master bedroom at the bottom of the stairwell. Dim. Cool. Lilac blooms
          poke through the east window. Dust in the slant of late afternoon
                light. Breathe deep. The smell of your mother

    when you were a girl and napped in the nest of her
         queen-sized bed. Beneath the metal frame and box spring,
                a pair of calfskin leather baby shoes. Laces tied.

Do not touch anything –

    let her sleep. But sleep won’t come to her eyes,
         Her right breast burns, mastitis, nipples cracked.
                His arm heavy across her chest,
                          soft puh of his slumber on her neck.

    All day the wolf at her back, stalks from room to room.
         What big eyes you have – the better to see.
                What big ears. What big teeth.
The better to tear inside,

        and hear what you cannot say –
(all flesh is grass,
the flower falls, bury the baby in lilac
branches. June blossoms,
milk-soaked mouths).

    Upstairs, the children dream, lashes flicker,
        silver underside of poplar leaves. All day they pull
                her ...

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