“Melancholy,” by Allison Benis White



Only her absence is more stunning—the cello in the corner between her fingers and legs. If you can hear her, you are still alive.

Maybe a child cups her mother’s face with two small hands, says please. Sometimes it helps to think of this or nothing.

In the morning, the movement of hands as they place a wooden barrette in a child’s hair. If one hand holds, the other must close.

Listening is like this. Without you, her fingers circle the strings, the window above squares several colors.

Near the stairs, a woman slips her hand through a smoke ring, smiles as it opens and disappears. Her pleasure, always, is in its disappearance.

Maybe this is enough: to lose. The lift of your hand seems too simple a gesture to signify this or good-bye.

And across the room, white roses climb the wallpaper. And a portrait of a woman in a red dress, who sat down in a red chair, who held very still.

Allison Benis White


Allison Benis White’s first collection of poems, Self-Portrait with Crayon, was published in March. Read the Rumpus review.

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →