Naming It

Ulf Bodin /​/​Flickr Naming It
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There should be a name for it:
driving into a spring storm
with the sun behind you,
the spray kicking up from the interstate,
the stacked periwinkle clouds, the sunlight
still glowing into the trees,
finding the naked white birch,
the new green of the underbrush.

Light has a name for high contrast
chiaroscuro, and this isn’t the same
but some days you’re sailing down I79
and in a second you see just
what the light wants you to see.
The birch trees never existed
until you noticed them, and you wonder
how you could have spent 40-​odd years
not seeing what today radiates in the ditches
and road medians, and what else you failed
to see or understand. But it’s a good day
with easy traffic and you think the rain
will let up soon but first a thin vein
of lightning cracks across the sky,
and everything is light upon light
upon light and you think, How marvelous,
which isn’t a word you normally use—
marvelous—but it’s the closest
you can get to this feeling, this idea,
this moment you conjure and can’t explain.


Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to . Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.


Jen Ashburn

Jen Ashburn is the author of the full-​length poetry collection The Light on the Wall (Main Street Rag, 2016), and has work published in numerous venues, including The Writer’s Almanac, Chiron Review, The MacGuffin and Whiskey Island. She holds an MFA from Chatham University, and lives in Edgewood.

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