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Sanctuary

by Bethany Jarmul

 

Before I met you, I was a deer
trapped in a maze of skyscrapers,

headlights barreling around me
in every direction.

In your eyes, I found a meadow
with tender grasses, daisies, & harebells.

Your arms are a forest,
not unlike the one where I was born—

thick with maple, oak, & sycamore,
dotted with acorns and nuts,

a sanctuary for the squirrels
and for me. I’ve discovered

new wilderness before,
but it was filled with black bears, with wolves

with hunters camouflaged as mountain laurel.
Now, when I’m lost on a one-way street,

or a tangle of yellow bridges,
I stumble back to the arboretum of you.

Your mouth is a babbling brook
of sweet, cold water. I return for a sip,

then a second—always one more.
 

Bethany Jarmul is the author of two chapbooks and one poetry collection—This Strange and Wonderful Existence (poetry chapbook, Bottlecap Press, 2023), Take Me Home (nonfiction chapbook, Belle Point Press, 2024), and Lightning is a Mother poetry collection, ELJ Editions, 2025). Her writing was selected for Best Spiritual Literature 2023, nominated for Best of the Net and Wigleaf Top 50, and published in more than 70 magazines. She lives near Pittsburgh. Connect with her at bethanyjarmul.com or on social media: @BethanyJarmul.


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