C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

Clearing; more of this

By: Jennifer Harrison


Clearing


last year the throttle and blade tore through

the allelopathy, the chipmunks, the old trunks

where the spotted mushrooms laced the duff


scrambling the moonshore, the language beneath

where the snakes curled and the frogs hopped limb

discouraging the blae backed swallows

from their courtly dips and bows


now she breathes her agony up from the ground

where the wheels flattened the berry bushes

beheaded and obliterated the violet

and white dotted forest flowers

filled her shallow rabbit burrows with mud

demolished her ancient mycorrhizal network

in a day's labor


I am searching for your hand

so together we

can make meaning

I can hear you

whispering to me how to

get good at death






more of this


we don't arrive by train anymore


germs are everywhere


we try to explain to our

children how the open fields

once spread out

like a thousand bedrooms of golden

hair sewn together in a waving sea

of honey


how the scented forest

& mushrooms that covered them

were the medicine we'd take


how tree bark smelled on our cheeks

how the ocean held back from

swallowing cities whole

& the shells we collected

kept the sound of the sea

like a tiny music box

locked inside


for reminder.


we look out over it now

we are not over it now


the mounds of ash scratching our throat

the clearcut scars of land pocked across infinity

the sun scalded fruit we cannot eat


we photocopy pictures

of the poison frog, the Hawaiian crow, the scimitar oryx

like mythic creatures in a fairytale


mothers are asked the reasons for this

why they all went away

but it all sounds nonsensical

we teach the children about the adults

who put their hands where they should not

we prepare them to protect & defend

the children they think about this

then say: was it them who controlled the land?

beat it senseless? stole from it? ravaged it shut?

poisoned it?


sometimes when we are drunk

or exhausted we are honest enough to say

no, it was all of us


maybe it wasn't those

who in the gloam

flung themselves across the dam

or tied their torso to a tree

or cut chicken wire to release the

animals to run


they too are gone

like the Yangtze river dolphin

now spread midair in magazine


we mask our children

before they go out to play

we buy groceries in the middle of the night


say our prayers by morning:


give me a hammock

and trees to hug it

sheets of rain for the fires

a river running clean

an earth mother

with warm loving eyes





Jennifer Harrison is a poet living in Seattle. Her debut chapbook will be published by Dancing Girl Press in late 2022.