Photo by Paul Negri


by Lisa Lopez Smith

Now, nearly the darkest day of the year—

I’m not shopping,

not making lists of what I don’t have,

not packing or wrapping.

Instead, quiet, watching snowflakes


wallpapering the window;

the holiday seems to glow

everywhere else but with me—

are we supposed to paper over the ache

with packages and drinks? Alone,

still so frail, still.

Here, a scarf and cafe lights

a fistful of fear, loosening,

walking as if there’s ice on the sidewalk.

We all fall eventually.

I want to be honest with silence,

and the dark.


In the flicker of the stovetop flame,

beeswax melting to the wick, dipping

a candle, thickening,

layer by layer.

Let there be light.


About the photographer: Paul Negri has twice won the Gold Medal for fiction in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Competition. His stories have appeared in more than 20 publications, including The Penn Review, Concho River Review, Pif Magazine, Jellyfish Review, and Vestal Review. He lives and writes in Clifton, New Jersey. He is on Twitter @skeptikoi.