Poetry from Cheryl Snell


While the husband plunges in the needle.
While his wife’s pain takes flight.
While his girlfriend waits downstairs,
arranging roses. This is a house for secrets.
No one knows what happens in a corner.
She stands under the porch light.
Photographs the building across the street.
Its door is boarded up, dimpled with knotty pine
or bullet holes. The man reappears and she offers
a bowl of ice cream to him. He pushes the scoops apart.
Hands back the bowl full of winter. He’s waiting
for the thaw. That’s always the way isn’t it─
you agitate anything and it all comes down to puddles.

Different Kinds of Cold

The raw kind that will kill a fly overnight;
that delays buds, shoves them back to earth;
the frosty kind that helps the snow’s weight
tug bough to ground, so the buds persist—
sometimes unsure, like the freeze of our backyard flood,
sometimes deliberate, like the veins etched by blades
on the finished rink. We follow one another
in the kind of cold that bites, and having bitten,
leaves fingers and earlobes with a childhood memory
we return to years later, convinced there was something
we left behind, something we would recognize
if we ever saw it again.

Cheryl Snell’s books include several poetry collections and the novels of her Bombay Trilogy, but her most recent writing has appeared in Does It Have Pockets? Switch, Gone Lawn, Your Impossible Voice, Necessary Fiction, Pure Slush, and other journals. A classical pianist, she lives in Maryland with her husband, a mathematical engineer.