Christina Cook


Christina Cook is the author of Lake Effect, a chapbook of poems published by Finishing Line Press. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, New Ohio Review, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Cimarron Review, among other journals. She holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a contributing editor for Inertia Magazine and Cerise Press. Christina is the senior writer for the president of Dartmouth College.


Imagine the twisted white
summer-night-sweat sheets I stripped
off our bed the morning you left

were something so similar
to homing devices, geese threaded them through
the southbound sky

to patch a plan for their return.
Imagine summer’s upturned barrel burning
as love is said to burn, rusty and hot

as the seat of the John Deere
still sitting where you let it run
out of gas the day your brother fell

through hoops to the silo floor.
Imagine my mind’s corroded metal,
its gear-teeth biting but failing to catch

hold of a hope that the rye will ripen without you,
then picture the rhubarb growing so red
I had to make a wine of it

to return it to the earth. Picture our sheets
like prayer flags along the clothesline,
coupling with the wind.

Homing was born entirely out of language. I started with "twisted white/summer-night-sweat sheets" and kept playing with the language as it began to create images, reworking the poem over and over—kneading it, really—until an arc began to take shape from those images. I wrote it a year or so after losing my mother to cancer and this was one of my first poems after her passing that wasn't about her or about death. Loss is still the emotional center of the poem, but reinvented in a fictional narrative that allowed me some distance from my grief: it was a relief to have language lead me into this persona.