Leah Umansky

December 23, 2023 Umansky Leah



The uplight is where I want to be, above and looking, and looking over. It’s a space that feels more knowing, and I like that. What is uplit is golden. What is uplit is pressed in sheen. When my father mounts my sconces in my new apartment, my mother says are you sure you want it there? You will only get the uplight, but I know that’s the light shining at the top. I know what uplight is. I think about that top half of the wall – how it crowns the room –and what is the top half of this life? It’s the opposite of this, isn’t it? If I am too attracted to the uplight, I’ll miss out on what’s here around me. I love the way light falls, natural light especially, but even artificial light like those Christmas deer on front lawns in the wintertime. I love those – the carefree imagined pounce. On Facebook, my friend Nancy has been posting photos of nature and all of them are from the ground up. Isn’t that a sort of lifting in itself? I love the perspective, the presence. They are grounding photos that say, look here. Lately, I’ve been less present and worrying more. I want to stop. I want to be kinder to myself. I want a backlit life – one where you see me coming from miles away, a slight ribbon of light, a shimmer of sight. One where you see the light trail behind me, like a star shooting, like a star brightly uplit by other stars, by the moon, by the mighty, by the night. 



This poem owes a debt to Nancy White.

Leah Umansky is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently, OF TYRANT, forthcoming with The Word Works in April 2024. She earned her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and has curated and hosted The COUPLET Reading Series in NYC since 2011. Her creative work can be found in such places as The New York Times, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A Day, Rhino, POETRY, and American Poetry Review. Her new hybrid-memoir, DELICATE MACHINE, is an exploration of womanhood, hope, and heart in the face of grief and a global pandemic. She can be found at www.leahumansky.com or @leah.umansky on IG.