by Lauren Tess


It’s like a dull plum in my mouth,
the sodden one o’clock of February.

The unobtrusive plastic drip and
drop-wrapper-in-lap crinkle

of algal icemelt, minute, muted as if
Missoula were a room foamed closed.

A Tundra crunches past, an affront.
Almost all I know. Except

scuttled colors: a film of seepage,
meeting, and peering at

bark, at what’s in a way grass but
works now as turf, lakes of it now

with decomposing snow as shore.
It forces an attention, this everyday

deprivation. The one o’clock of it.
One round room of world on the palate.

Highly voweled: ecru, ocher, oh no,
none of those. Deer drop away

from the mountain. Left with next to nothing.
So little becomes more than a lot.


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