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This poem is taken from PN Review 216, Volume 40 Number 4, March - April 2014.

‘Ballast’ and Other Poems Sheri Benning
Ballast

for Annette Ahern


I dreamt about him again, a man I barely know,
lace of first snow on his shoulders. I reach to hold him,
to brush away that fine burden and pull him from a day-after-day
winter that is coming. A man I barely know, but love

for the stories he told me as we drove through dusk. October air,
honey rimed with the Atlantic’s breath. Auxin thinning in the leaves
of beeches and maples, Nova Scotia’s white aspens. Branches, wicks
for the gutter of carotene, cinnabar, burnt-blood, the bright death
they bore all summer laid bare by the season’s vagrant light.

After the sun burrowed into the nap of the woods,
shed fur and boughs, the kindling of a lantern-lit barn
or distant flicker of Sackville, then Truro, gave rise to a stray
dog, fox, a skim of migrating thrush. Nameless shadows,
a muddy patina on the violet of new night.
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