winner of the 2018 Walt Whitman Prize
Stereoscope: pioneer cabin tree
Publication in The Raw Art Review
Dogwood blooms, Bierstadt’s mammoth work–
Look: what they are telling you, is true.
I’ve never seen a thing so heavy
Below us, always, curled and
curving a weft of roots to hold them straight,
a ripcord frayed by us, by time, by drought, by fire.
The spot where a trunk meets ground, it is like that;
It’s a weight so large the earth will barely hold it.
Time and exposure,
hemorrhaging cells iron red like our soil soft; downy fur, its trunk, red roots shot through
We could both find a ferric grave.
Here is Krakatoa, soot-stained into this flesh
Here: it has known language in all its incantations
Here: disaster, cellulose packed so tight there was no growth those years at all, such small cells
swollen, a baptism, here:
Pinned into its red fur, my first boyfriend slid his hand under my blouse;
and, this thing of wonder, of me quaking beneath him, first and always in the dirt at her feet; rise
and fall, a sharp breath, our own topography.
Or the live oak, a riot of mistletoe in its branches;
the heavy stone, feldspar-flecked,
upon which we took our vows;
I will tell you: it fell in my lifetime;
I will tell you that.