About the Feature

Sweet Field Anemoia

Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary

……………….anemoia (n.) — nostalgia for a time you’ve never known
……….coined by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows


There was, at one time, an empty field. I’m sure of it.
Or, was it a forest so jaded that a vine snake’s darting
left only a glare, like light breaking over rolling grain . . .

No, I know there was a field because I miss it—
its brush languid as a forest slinking into jaded slumber,
dragging floor-dwellers at its outskirts like a tulle train,

the land trodden by what once bent its grasses with breath.
God, what we could do without yesterday, its forested jaundice,
its sepia fog. With the prologue we ourselves sowed, a terrain

thick with memory of unbodied lush. Florid.
A forest of stalks. Weeping, it shone like jade
in the easy sun. Yes, there was warmth. Sugarcane.

A sweetness. Or even just its thick simulacra. It whispered
like sound in an adjacent forest, an aria unflattened
by my failure to prove it real . . . Believe me. I’m sane,

I swear. I remember the pasture, the soft sickle
of a new leaf. Each shoot its own forest with only jaybirds
and lace bugs coming between stems and their rain.

Listen, I know this field. It never held a soul. No tree
-bark backs. No forest of bowed limbs. No blue jaws.
No ambered-over sores. Only green thoughts. Only the mundane.

About the Author

Ariana Benson was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Her manuscript, Black Pastoral, was selected by Willie Perdomo as winner of the 2022 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. A 2022 recipient of the Furious Flower Poetry Prize and the Porter House Review Poetry Prize, Benson also won the 2021 Graybeal Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets, and an Academy of American Poets Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Poetry, Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. Through her writing, she strives to fashion vignettes of Blackness that speak to its infinite depth and richness.