I always picture dormant seeds in the ground beginning to stir and turn toward the light today, the darkest day of the year. I try to find a moment to stop and find the ears of the parts of myself that have collapsed or gone hopeless or numb or punch-drunk or cynical, and whisper there’s only more light from here…
These last few months, I’ve been turning to poetry even more than usual—a way to stay tender while the world seems to be hardening around us.
One poem that helped me re-find my way this fall was “Sweetness” by Anna Swanson (who is, I’m thrilled to say, one of our 2025 authors—stay tuned!). It’s a kind of spell, and I share it here, with her permission, as my end-of-year offering to you.
Sweetness | מתיקות by Anna Swanson
First night of Rosh Hashanah,
always a new moon. Alone in a rented cabin
I wrap an old towel around me,
turn off lights, carry a plastic dish of honey
and apple slices to the hot tub. No large light
to dull the dark open doors of the sky.
I lie back naked in warm water
under the quiet libido of stars, and the world and I
have some words about sweetness
for the coming year. Jupiter rises closer
than I’ve ever seen—twinkling,
I can’t think of another word, little rays
like a star in a storybook. There will be sex, yes,
I say, dipping a finger into 55,000 miles
of pollen gathering, sex dripping, no, sweeter,
sweet as the edge of the paring knife
that cleaves open the apple so the wet cells of it
might dip, unskinned, into honey, so that we might meet it
with tongues first, before teeth. Maybe
this year someone will pat my head,
tell me how good I’ve been in the filthy privacy
of our own sweet world. Friends will fall easily
into my life, like in our twenties when we met
and sparked with such ease it was unremarkable,
except let me delight in new friendships at forty-eight,
no less like lightning but encumbered with toddlers,
logistics, work schedules, lining up our brief
windows and understanding, finally, how sweet,
how remarkable, to make a new friend.
Sweetness of being together in the hundreds,
the thousands, for a new world whose seed
is us singing it in the streets, solidarity as a spell
we say out loud with our bodies—Protect Trans Kids!
Water is life! Not gay as in happy but queer
as in Free Palestine! Maybe I will watch children I love
learn to ride bicycles and program small plastic robots.
Keira will read me her new favourite book
while her parents cook dinner in the next room.
Gluten-free mushroom cashew pie, confit tomatoes.
Another fifteen-pound brisket slow-cooked
six hours with the twelve cups of onions
in my mother’s recipe, a backyard of people to eat it
and almost enough forks. Picnics, the sweetness
of plaid blankets spread with snacks,
drinking hot tea in the snow, feeding each other
with our gardens and our fingers, which,
of course, is another way of saying, yes
there will be sex: the kind that is fingers, fingers,
fingers. And love, new spark and flush
blooming out from under where I had not thought
to look. A cool pond at sunrise, that perfect
shade of lipstick that makes my lips look
like my lips only now my lips are ripe fruit
and a sparkling stranger walks, unhurried,
into the queer orchard of my life.
Sweetness of secret beaches and outdoor naps
and emails that say pleased to inform
to everything we have so ardently asked.
Of leaning into a quiet Saturday,
a heavy cotton quilt, of giving a body
what it needs and for as long as it wants.
Sweetness of deep sleep, of loving a body
when it is accomplishing nothing.
Of this recliner with a view of the ocean,
tea and two squares of chocolate
next to that new novel by that favourite author
and hoping, deliciously, it’s a good one.
Of this new year, the doors just cracking, and here
we are, about to step in, and we hope—deliciously—
it’s a good one, a sweet one, a drenched,
a dancing, a diving one, where we dip a finger
into the secret centre of our possible lives,
taste our way into the opening year,
tongues first, then teeth.
I also just want to take a moment to say, once again, how ridiculously proud I am of the poetry we’ve published this year, and how excited I am for the poetry we’ll be publishing in the year to come.
And last, a deep thank you to all of you for your continued support of our improbable poetry-only publishing program. It’s a community effort. Here’s to poetry, to staying alert to small stirrings in the darkness, to spells that keep us tender and fierce.
Publisher, Brick Books
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