Groundhog, Bird, Anthill

Alyse Bensel



Groundhogs chirp like sparrows

when you step too close, trying to disguise

your shape with an oversize hula hoop—

except its cry pierces, a shriek you can never answer,

even when you move closer, your throat

pinched in weak mimicry.


Some unnamed ivy,

tentacles of a leviathan, curls

up the broad oak trunk. Mayapple shoots

litter the base, and anthills,

like domed mosques, gather

each grain of dirt a stone

the smallest foot can crush.


If you tread, noiseless, your breath a hush

with the wind, maybe one foot nearer,

before the groundhog dashes back

into ivy, a place even your hand won’t reach.



- After Susan Briante





Alyse Bensel, a native of Pennsylvania, currently resides in State College, while pursuing her MFA in poetry at Penn State. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in MAYDAY Magazine, Cider Press Review, Foothill Poetry, The Meadowland Review, Evening Skyline Review, and Untitled Country Review. When not engaged in her teaching and studies, she works at non-profit art organizations and for a work-share program at a local CSA.