Fall 2023, Volume 35

Poetry by Jennifer Blackledge

The kind of night where

It’s 10 pm and the sky still glows
and a strong wind blows
warm from the south. 
It keeps the trees wild
and nervous 
and me half-blind
with hair in my eyes. 
It’s June and empty tents breathe and snap
in someone’s backyard. 
ConGRADulations! a lawn sign yells.
My old dog pulls me down streets
that are never a surprise. 
Tonight, I could knock on any door and
it could be opened by you. 

At the rink

I tell my girls to hide their shoes under benches;
not to get rattled by the sprayed ice
of a hockey stop. Remember, 
they’re not that tall. It’s the skates.
This city of ash and sulfur
worships boys twice a week.

On those nights the bleachers are 
packed with girls
who pretend they can’t skate 
and old people who go home 
to the low ranches 
like bunkers on these gridded streets.

All winter their Christmas lights stay on,
hedges lined like tiny runways.
They blink to their long-gone gods:
come home, come home.




BIO: Jennifer Blackledge's work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Medmic, I-70 Review, The Lake, Scientific American, and other publications. She has a BA from Michigan State University and an MFA from Brown University. She lives just south of Detroit and works in the automotive industry.