Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Fort of Blankets” by Sylvia Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh is originally from Pennsylvania, where some of her relatives were anthracite coal miners. She has an M.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin and currently teaches high school African and Asian cultural studies. She is the school poetry club advisor and a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Her poems have appeared in: An Ariel Anthology, Midwest Prairie Review, Peninsula Pulse, Red Cedar Review, Seems Literary Journal, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Verse-Virtual, Verse Wisconsin, We Are Poetry: A Love Anthology, and elsewhere. Most recently, she was the 2015 winner of the Milwaukee Irish Fest Donn Goodwin Prize.
Fort of Blankets
in this neighborhood of no grass
where a massive chestnut tree
casts costly shade
over its choke collar of concrete
rust-brick houses press close
Beatrice invites me in
I crouch down through the doorway
her bedroom blanket
auras rosy over my telling
of mountain stories
abandoned mills and mines
and dealings with spirits
the need to navigate the dark with care
she seems to like the part
about the spirits and the dark
asks for more
our limbs lazily touch
rough scrape of sidewalk
muffled thin as the comfort we spin
I know now that I want to kiss her
like a sister
but had no words for it then
blue eyes and brown
round as a settled world
Poet’s Notes: My hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania is an historic east coast city. My grandparents lived in an old and somewhat impoverished neighborhood where the three-story row houses pushed right up against the sidewalk. I would visit there with my father on Sunday afternoons and I always found the house to be somewhat oppressive. I tried to go outside whenever I could. The children in the neighborhood didn’t have much in the way of toys or nice clothes, but there was one little girl who was inventive with her bedroom blankets. I bonded with her inside her fort of blankets, where we exchanged stories of our different lives. She was so sweet and was probably my first crush.
Editor’s Note: I enjoy the magical moment of memory here and feel drawn into the fort under the blanket. The lesbian subtext is tastefully treated.
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