Four Poems

by Gemma Brand-Wolf

Illustration by Ella Rosenblatt

published November 16, 2018


Harmony in Red 

I cut my foot at the museum,

Walked around afraid

Trailing blood


I looked at the wall between two paintings


One: a panoramic landscape,

Windswept and smudged


Two: a blind sketch,

Unformed idea turned masterpiece


I looked at my foot,

Thought of all the paint I could save

If I just used my blood instead.


Pillars Of Salt

So I cry into my dinner because we ran out of salt

Or I cry into that jar sitting over there on the shelf

The shelf near the window so the light comes in at noon

And the glass makes a rainbow on the kitchen wall


When I was younger I would spend all my time in the school library

where a glass prism hung from the window sill

Waltzing softly with the shadowed books

Embroidered with dust and stacked in the corners

Where coffee stained the ceiling

Like ink blot tests for amateurs


Storm clouds collect on the ceiling of my room

Like a little-known painting by a well-known artist

Lonely on a grey wall in a hallway to be passed

But I stop and look at the crepuscular light,

The storm in my bedroom gathering against the window


A cloud of breath in a golden frame

Spilled across the ceiling by someone in a rush,

Someone who forgot about the rainbow hanging in the window

And thought the jar on the shelf was full of seawater


So they didn’t realize

We were out of salt




I have forgotten what it means to live in the summer

Gentle in my thin dress

Like the fruit gathered on the kitchen counter

Rotting happily in the warm sun


For too long

My body reeled,

So resistant to the fading light,

Demanding reincarnation

In place of peeling skin.


High Tide

Wrapped in

the cold arms of the things

and the people

we’d lost


We learned to love

the rocks

that tumbled through the tide

and bruised our feet

while our skipped stones sunk

that long day in August

when the heat was heavy with

the dust of our words.


We talked like summer wind

our voices carried through the air,

hot and salty and

quickly forgotten,

footsteps in wet sand

at high tide.


We named ourselves

after the things we fear,

and left everything else

buried in the backyard

under the big tree

where bark beetles dance

through purple summers.


We came back this year

names changed

our words carving canyons

into the sea,

gathered at our feet again

to collect the things

and the people

we’d lost.