THREE POEMS by Amy Dryansky

Somewhere Honey from those Bees

Try to see the world’s backstage
machinery, its business— Look,
said O’Keeffe, look closer.
So the man on camera
keens for his wife,
and for the flicker of a signal
he’s ours, the sun shines
equally—gracing, gilding,
revealing, damning—it depends
on where you stand. Looting
or surviving? Taking or taking back?
And look at the flowers— how they open
despite everything. Maybe not as full,
or bright. Maybe not as many. One baby
held aloft, fighting for air.
When my father died the sky
cleared to perfect, creeping thyme and bees
blanketed the cemetery, honey
on its way to being made.
I thought: how could this day be
so beautiful? How could this day be?

Look closer. Even as the water recedes
there’s nothing sweet to see here.
And so the spider’s patient web,
and so the bird’s broken neck,
our necessary mercy.

–Previously appeared in New England Watershed.


“Past A Certain Point of Magnification, All Portraits Become Landscapes”

I don’t look like I have vinegar for blood.
I don’t look as if I fish.
It’s not clear my branches are gone.
I can’t risk strawberries, so I’ll ask for a lamp.
(Please dispense with any symbolism you bring to light.
It’s an oil lamp. It smokes).
I must remember to hang on to the fish.
(Please dispense with any notions you have about faith.
I’m a woman. My conception is maculate.)
I must remember to hang on to the lamp
(your tired, your poor).
I must remember that fruit, all fruit, is ephemeral.
I can’t risk branches. I can’t risk staring.
Three painted turtles on a rock.
Hold still. Hold still.
Something is breaking.


Because We’ve Landed on the Moon but Nobody Wants to Live There

Someone’s got to stand at the door waving,
then busy up the empty house, clear the table, dishes,

her face. Someone’s got to wash away
that smear of relief and regret,

keep the birds in check,
break a few speckled eggs, then cry

as if it were all a cruel mistake. Because the eggs
are ruined. Because we never get back

that feeling of lying in the grass, breathing in
the soft earth and the whole of summer before us.

We love celebration, the smell of fireworks,
but we work too long and forget to pick up milk.

We don’t notice or agree. And it’s too easy
to hit someone’s hand with a ruler. And a hundred times

is too many. We need to forge a different taste,
give it a name and shape,

then send an arrow through it. So we can hold
each other. So the phoebe can re-use its nest.

So flowers can bloom. So the loyal dog
can travel half a continent and return home,

limping and proud. So conversation can be more
palatable than absence–like cotton candy—

sweet, and then nothing. Even so, it anchors us
when we think we might blow away.

–Previously appeared in Orion.



Sadly, these poems aren’t new. They were written in response to other, equally devastating events: Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq. They were written with a sense of timelessness, and by that I mean: “please, not again.” They were written out of rage and grief. Most of all, they were written against hopelessness.


Amy Dryansky works for a regional land trust in western Massachusetts and lead writing workshops in the community. Her first book, How I Got Lost So Close To Home was published by Alice James Books and individual poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She’s also been awarded fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Villa Montalvo and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She blogs about what it’s like to navigate the murky territory of poet/writer/mother, at Pokey Mama:

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