(while wandering in the forest at Indian Point, Ellsworth, Maine)
Bats watched them fall, cupped like tiny palms,
toward earthen forests.
They land, eager ears up,
on twigs and felled branches.
They nestle between lichen,
figure out hyphae,
the deep composting web.
Once homed, aliens echolocate via sonar chirps,
the Black-Throated Green Warbler.
Thin sound beams traverse the woods, establish generations,
the milky way’s travelers in their new division.
The trill of me, me, me, a tiny army of green shells,
parsing old and new ocean kinships.
And then they wait.
Wood fibers decay,
car tires feed carbon black into morning breezes,
a hint of rock dust,
rush hour exhaust fumes.
They stir the pot, assemble new fuel,
toward the day that conflagration will send them,
spores and all,
toward the orbit,
closer, so much closer
into the dark.
Copyright © 2023 by Petra Kuppers. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 31, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
Someone just died but I'm still alive and yet I don't have a soul anymore. All I have left is a transparent body inside of which transparent doves hurl themselves on a transparent dagger held by a transparent hand. I see struggle in all its beauty, real struggle which nothing can measure, just before the last star comes out. The rented body I live in like a hut detests the soul I had which floats in the distance. It's time to put an end to that famous dualism for which I've been so much reproached. Gone are the days when eyes without light and rings drew sediment from pools of color. There's neither red nor blue anymore. Unanimous red-blue fades away in turn like a robin redbreast in the hedges of inattention. Someone just died,—not you or I or they exactly, but all of us, except me who survives by a variety of means: I'm still cold for example. That's enough. A match! A match! Or how about some rocks so I can split them, or some birds so I can follow them, or some corsets so I can tighten them around dead women's waists, so they'll come back to life and love me, with their exhausting hair, their disheveled glances! A match, so no one dies for brandied plums, a match so the Italian straw hat can be more than a play! Hey, lawn! Hey, rain! I'm the unreal breath of this garden. The black crown resting on my head is a cry of migrating crows because up till now there have only been those who were buried alive, and only a few of them, and here I am the first aerated dead man. But I have a body so I can stop doing myself in, so I can force reptiles to admire me. Bloody hands, misteltoe eyes, a mouth of dried leaves and glass (the dried leaves move under the glass; they're not as red as one would think, when indifference exposes its voracious methods), hands to gather you, miniscule thyme of my dreams, rosemary of my extreme pallor. I don't have a shadow anymore, either. Ah my shadow, my dear shadow. I should write a long letter to the shadow I lost. I'd begin it My Dear Shadow. Shadow, my darling. You see. There's no more sun. There's only one tropic left out of two. There's only one man left in a thousand. There's only one woman left in the absence of thought that characterizes in pure black this cursed era. That woman holds a bouquet of everlastings shaped like my blood.
From Andre Breton: Selections edited by Mark Polizzoti. Copyright © 2003. Reprinted by permission of University of California Press. "The Forest in the Axe" translated by Zack Rogow and Bill Zavatsky. All rights reserved.
From While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by CAConrad. Used with permission of the author and Wave Books.
Between forest and field, a threshold like stepping from a cathedral into the street— the quality of air alters, an eclipse lifts, boundlessness opens, earth itself retextured into weeds where woods once were. Even planes of motion shift from vertical navigation to horizontal quiescence: there’s a standing invitation to lie back as sky’s unpredictable theater proceeds. Suspended in this ephemeral moment after leaving a forest, before entering a field, the nature of reality is revealed.
Copyright © Ravi Shankar. Used with permission of the author.
The forest is its own thanksgiving
Walking a mile or so from the road
Past the lake & ancient post office
I skim the long bodies of the beech trees
The elegant ascension of their slender trunks
A kind of gorgeous illusory play
Of white bars against the dark ochre matting
Of the earth below
Peace is where you find it
As here the last secret of the dawn air mixes
With a nostalgia so perfumed by misery
Only the rhythm of the walk itself
Carries me beyond the past
To say I miss you is to say almost nothing
To say the forest is the sanctuary of ghosts
Is only the first step of my own giving way—
Not the giving up—just the old giving thanks
From The Red Leaves of Night (Harper Collins, 1999) by David St.
John. Copyright © 1999 by David St. John. Used with permission
of the poet.