February 2019

The Take Archives


Roseanna Boswell


Upstate

My brothers put Frank’s Red Hot
into their Ramens. Mix it red-orange. 

The game is to see who can stand
the most heat. Who can assuage
the most hunger.

In New York, January is another
month of winter, like February. 
Like most of March, much of April.

My socks are balled in the toe
of my rubber boots and I am six.
The cold gets in, in spite of. 

In the morning, my brothers 
have eaten everything in sight
––locust-ed the bread and saltines.

All our bowls are ringed with vinegar
and the sun spills itself on new snow.


Author’s Statement
When I was little, we lived on a farm in upstate New York. The winters there were very long, very bitter, and have managed to color most memories of my girlhood. The longer I am a poet, the more I find winter and snow sneaking into my writing. I think “Upstate” has been my most successful attempt to capture the over-largeness of New York winters, and the smallness of being a little sister.

From the Poetry Editors
Boswell provides a well-condensed narrative to a pop culture reference using literary tools such as juxtaposition and imagery.  The contrast of heat on the Scoville scale against the cold of winter provides tactile imagery and levity. Her poem revolves around the ache of hunger, the scarcity of food, and a need to stay warm:  “In the morning, my brothers have eaten everything in sight/–locust-ed the bread and saltines.” Boswell artfully reawakens the childhood experience.  She provides us with a strong sense of place in northeastern America, its long winter seasons in her memory of socks balled up by the toes.