Jill Bialosky

flail, snap, struggle & These Long Afternoons
June 22, 2020 Bialosky Jill

flail, snap, struggle,


flail, snap, struggle,
strangle, some eaten out by an infestation
(the devastation of dominant manifestation).
One summer, it was cicadas.
Trunks pregnant with moles & voles,
shelter-seekers making nests—we’ve spotted swallows,
blue jays, back & forth of robins in idle conversation,
incessant nuisance of woodpeckers—
symphonic throbbing of hundreds of thousands
of insects humming
in brilliant orchestration—watched the nipples
of buds take hold in spring,
shiver in the wind, each leaf, as if to bloom
in spontaneous simulation,
mourned the foliage’s decolorization,
curl of leaf before deportation, fallen
leaves, stacked in piles like skeletons
of the dead, under shade & shadow, witnessed
disturbance & succession & as if by the miraculous hand
of a force unknown, tyrannical, victorious, small pines
nearing extinction, through slaughter, no taller
than a toddler, push themselves up & take hold.

Those Long Afternoons


During the blackout, we were alone in our house surrounded by woods (his father was working in the city). No phone, no access, not even a radio or batteries for flashlights.
Because we wanted him to have faith, not because we wanted to be separate, but because we had to be watchful of who we were, we schooled him in the language of our ancestors & so when darkness descended & he grew afraid, we gathered all the candles. I told him the story of Moses in the wilderness & how there was a miracle & the light was everlasting. It is a metaphor, I said & we waited & eventually we had light.

Jill Bialosky‘s Asylum: A Personal, Historical, Natural Inquiry in 103 Lyric Sections is forthcoming in August from Knopf.   She is the author of four acclaimed collections of poetry, most recently The Players; three critically acclaimed novels, most recently, The Prize, and two works of prose, Poetry Will Save Your Life and a New York Times bestselling memoir History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New YorkerThe Atlantic MonthlyHarper’sO MagazineThe Kenyon ReviewHarvard Review, and Paris Review among others. She co-edited with Helen Schulman the anthology, Wanting a Child. She is an Executive Editor and Vice President at W. W. Norton & Company. In 2014 she was honored by the Poetry Society of America for her distinguished contribution to poetry.