by Justine Johnston Hemmestad

In a life of shadows something lives,
Something prospers and strives—and though,
in its illusiveness,
it should be kicking and screaming,
it lies peaceful,
Amid the ruins of life . . .
it dwells in the reflection of crystal shards,
Both sharp and dull, of life to and fro, of experience far and wide—
Silence births the depth that fills empty corners,
Reaching the grace amidst loneliness,
Beckoning books to fall open, pages rippling,
revealing limitless thoughts.
Time—through imagination—soars from printed ink,
Seizing my heart in timeless adoration
Upon delicate waves of warm, flowing blood.
If an island is languished, obscure, oblique and alone—
Then hot sands blow upon solaced feet,
As sharp winds sting from distance unknown—
But pearls emerge from the shell of what was,
Free of resentment, full of promise . . .
for exile breeds reflection,
in sublime understanding,
Permitting the world to be.

Justine Johnston Hemmestad is currently enrolled in the BLS program at The University of Iowa, where she has taken several Iowa Writers’ Workshop courses, including poetry and novel-writing, as well as playwriting courses from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. She is a return student and has been writing for over 20 years. Her poems have been published for Dead Silence, a compilation of entries into the 2010 Y-City Writers Conference ContestPoetica Victorian Magazine (2012); The Classical Poets Society (2012); she has also written several unpublished short stories and historical novels, as well as has located a historical letter, published in Black Heart Magazine. She also has writing essays published in The Whirlwind Review and Draft: the blog of process. She lives in Iowa with her husband of 23 years and their seven children, though two have grown to begin their own lives and pursuits.  Her website is