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About this Poem 

"In a class in graduate school, my professor said that he didn’t really see other people until he started reading—this resonated with me, and by extension, I thought, I didn’t really see myself until I started writing. This poem, which is from a book-length series called “Please Bury Me in This,” originated from reading Virginia Woolf’s Reminiscences."
—Allison Benis White

from Please Bury Me in This

Maybe my arms lifted as a woman lowers a dress over my head.

This is not what I want to tell you.

Looking at red flowers on her mother’s dress as she sat on her lap on a train is Woolf’s first memory.

Then the sound of waves behind a yellow shade, of being alive as ecstasy.

Maybe her mind, as I read, lowering over my mind.

Maybe looking down, as I sit on the floor, at the book inside the diamond of my legs.

Even briefly, to love with someone else’s mind.

Moving my lips as I read the waves breaking, one, two, one, two, and sending a splash of water over the beach.

What I want to tell you is ecstasy.

Copyright © 2013 by Allison Benis White. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 12, 2013. 

Copyright © 2013 by Allison Benis White. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 12, 2013. 

Allison Benis White

Allison Benis White

Allison Benis White is the author of Please Bury Me in This (Four Way Books, forthcoming in 2017) and Small Porcelain Head (Four Way Books, 2013).

by this poet

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I am writing to you as an act of ending.

Cutting faces out of paper and folding them in envelopes like thoughts.

Am I a monster, Clarice Lispector asked in The Hour of the Star, or is this what it means to be human?

To be alive, I think as I cut another face.

What

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I am not any closer to saying what I mean.

Love has made itself so quiet, a few red fish moving in slow circles.

I want to say like blood, like forgiveness, this obedience, looking at the ground on my knees.

I mean to cease to feel, to cancel, to give up all claim to—

At some point, I rested

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Looking up in the dark I thought, Tell me something you’ve never told anyone.

I tried in the closet but the rope broke.

Maybe the relief of conversation, of something almost happening.

The way in the morning, lying on the floor, the light through the blinds cuts my face.

Less than hope: