This week, we’re featuring a new poem by Shelley Puhak. Puhak is the author of Stalin in Aruba, winner of the 2010 Towson Prize for Literature, and the chapbook The Consolation of Fairy Tales, winner of the 2011 Stephen Dunn Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Southeast Review, Yalobusha Review, and many other journals.
This past October, three astronomers won the Nobel Prize in Physics for showing that cosmic expansion, rather than slowing down post-Big Bang, is actually speeding up. The universe is straining its seams; mysterious dark energy is flinging everything apart. A few days later, a friend mentioned how October is always a season of dread and spoke of its chill and dank as something to ward off. I launched an impassioned defense of October, which has always been one of my favorite months. October not only signals the end of summer mugginess (and what do I hate more than August in Baltimore?), it is the month I was married, the month my son was born. I began wondering: if spring is the season of heady infatuation and summer the season of feverish lust, where does autumn fall on that sexual continuum? This poem began as a list of ways in which we hunker down for the winter, literally and figuratively, and stalled. Once I experimented with apostrophe, it found its form.
Letter to an Old Flame