Caroline Beltz-Hosek



“Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.” —Sylvia Plath

My daughter dreams of dogs, saliva like glossy tripwire. As the pack circles her bed,

showing teeth, she readies (red as the desire for red) her face for impact, menace

of a fiction that feels real. She wakes & screams, eyes glissando from darkness to

darkness, I come, I say: “In your house, in your bed, nothing can hurt you-

I have been avoiding this

poem. I don’t want to be

pulled under the wheels of—

I want to write

about my daughter, who I think could live forever :: unscathed, smiling

if I can just love her enough,

remind her of everything that is:

Look—the thick

kisses of sunrise, the hushed way

someone dresses

for work.

not death,

not you.

Jo, my daughter, is

not you but she is


Joah: a simple, obscure Biblical name,

masculine, yet suicide is women’s

work: trill of impact, your eyelet dress blooms rust

as the Amtrak “Cardinal” separates you & nothing &

can hurt you.

“What is the point of dreams, anyway?” Jo asks.

She holds me hard, arms soft hooks (as if clinging could save us), I kiss & kiss her

nightmare until it oxidizes clear:

red        pink        girl        this—

Hush—cadence of dissolving.

It’s all right, but (let’s be clear) you should have lived, you lived with cousins who kept

you: clean & confident, Peter Pan collars stiff as a board, light as a feather. Your older

sister, Thea, was sent to (this feels like fiction) Aunt Icy Leona who spoke to her as if

she was already dead, who put my grandmother in charge of the household laundry, left

alone as long as the washboard & soap flakes did their work. Red-eye :: stain, release.

Midwestern Cinderella. A songbird with teeth.

Jo: diminutive of Josephine, feminine of Joseph.

She will add/give/increase. I named my daughter

after that outspoken March daughter, a novel

I loved when I thought I couldn’t love anyone

more than my mother. We inherit this desire to take

life :: an affectionate mother, this—

the last

day of April. Red tulips rise

outside my window, the cling

of my :: death-breath, poem, (you & not you) girl

trills in the next room, softly

like feathers or fur, or lucid dreams,

or how you imagine

everything could have been.

Caroline Beltz-Hosek received her M.A. in Poetry from SUNY Brockport. A former assistant editor at Penguin Putnam, she has taught creative writing and literature at SUNY Geneseo since 2006. Her poems have been published in The Fourth River and Minetta Review. Additionally, she was awarded a 2018 Incentive Grant from the Geneseo Foundation for The Long Diminishing Parade,” a poetry collection based in part on her maternal ancestors, which explores topics of motherhood, mental illness, alienation and the immigrant experience, and the role that place—real and imagined, personal and historical—plays in shaping identity and creative expression.