Walter Benjamin’s Warning


For in happiness, all that is earthly seeks 
its downfall, Benjamin wrote. 

I note there’s no route down from 
the mountain without descending,
without remembering the peak.

Few chose to rest on the summit
and never share what they saw, 
though some linger in the looking-

downness. It is easy to write letters 
from the clouds and fold a dream 
inside with question of snow

yet to fall. The same flutter when
reading early love poems, recovering
desire’s audacity in dimmed closets. 

All the world falling on our heads 
may be that mountain. May feel real
without matching what is true.

May taste raw without developing
further. I covet the tree who’s 
lived enough to grow a shady

overstory, a layer between sky and 
earth which is not the sunless 
ice of a face escaping brightness

but the world’s voiding brilliance
hiding inside or beneath us.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her partner and several intense mammals. Recent books creative nonfiction chapbook, Ribald (Bull City Press Inch Series, Nov. 2020). Her poetry collection, dor, won the Wandering Aengus Press Prize and is forthcoming in July 2021. More online at