I’m climbing out of this season, fingernails ragged, belly soft. I tuck a stem of dried mint behind my ear to remind myself.
Once, I bared my shoulders. The bottom of my feet roughed up the dirt with their hard calluses. When I harvested arugula, it smelled of green spice—alchemical veins pulsing sun and dirt and water. I do remember this. I pinned summer light up in my hair and made no apologies for the space I took up—barely clothed and sun-bound.
Now, a ball of twine in the grey sky. The sun rolls low on the horizon. Hangs. Then dips back down again, wind howling us into night.
Inside the erratic rhythm of this wavering flame, I conjure the potent sky of the longest day. Seeds with a whole galaxy inside them. Cicadas vibrating in the alders.
But the sensation of joy slips too quickly into simulacra. Song on repeat. I never meant to find myself in such a cold place, my hair thinning against winter.
Once, red clover grew thick where today’s rabbit tracks pattern the snow. Clover said flow, clover said nourish, clover said we’ve got this.
I reel the memory out, let it linger on the horizon, then reel it back in. I play it out and reel it back in. Some kind of fishing, some kind of flying—again and again. I loosen the buckles of my mind. I take up space in the precision of my breath. I call us all back in.
Copyright © 2022 by Tamiko Beyer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 31, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
“Over the past few years, in part inspired and encouraged by Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, I have slowly been building a relationship with the stolen land that I occupy. I am learning to listen to the land, people, ancestors, seasons, and more-than-human beings of this place. I am trying to live fully in all the seasons—and winter is where I struggle most. This poem, written in February and revised over the summer, is part of my ongoing discovery of the radical poetics and politics of learning to be of a place, connected to all beings and all things.”