{An Umbrella Special Feature}

Kate Bernadette Benedict

is the editor of this journal and two others published by Umbrella Publishing Group: Tilt-a-Whirl and Bumbershoot.

Her full-length collections are Here from Away (2003) and In Company (2011).

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Here from Away

        Do not expect a welcome. People here
are harsh, our inclement disposition matches the weather.
                Our complexions are cracked leather,
        callus gnarls our unextended hands.
        Our jaws are set; we neither smile nor sneer.
You are not welcome, you are not unwelcome in these lands.

        “From away” is how we’ll speak of you,
if speak of you we do. You will agree: the designation
                suits. An old affiliation
        marks your speech and lineates your mind.
        Though you plant a field or occupy a pew,
we’ll recognize what’s plain: you are not our kind.

        What of that field? It will yield, or not yield.
You own the deed but such a claim is temporary.
                What of that pew, the momentary
        respite from estrangement you hope to find
        there? Certain ruptures simply can’t be healed.
Certain quests are futile, insubstantial, ill-defined.

        You quit the bright Cosmopolis to settle
in this other place, this land of sharp cliff and rough shore.
                And though that parting tore
        you at the root, now you quarter into new clay.
        Who knows how long you’ll last? You lack our mettle.
But here you are among us, uninvited, from away.


[Originally published in Here from Away (CW Books, 2003).]