INTO THE THICKET

We go looking for tea cedar, crow feather, and first snow
to stick, but find the mud still warm under our feet, the Earth's
moist breath still fogging the looking glass this late into fall.

Deep in our bones, we know we'll waltz on over the Frost Moon
before the first big freeze cracks Ironwood, and the hunkered
Sun, low in her cross-quarter nest, fades into dim Solstice.

The Wind Hag is just now beginning her November dance,
pirouetting north, Superior throbbing her meter
deep into the basalt below and beyond simple ken.

Deep in our bones, we feel the forest vibrate in omen,
but as we’ve no one near to confide in, we must worry
our best wishes, casting spells against the coming darkness.

WAVE AFTER WAVE

Dawn, a lit fuse. The radioman says
“bombogenesis,” like agates tumbling
from a jar—system as meteorite
off Whitefish Point. In other words, water

lynx, Mishipeshu, lathered up in red.
In a heartbeat, rollers mass two stories
trough to insatiate tempest, unquelled
by prayer nor cigarette, careless, mean,

a cold-blooded indifference so pure,
a strong swimmer won't last ten wet minutes.
At the Keweenaw, surf pummels the stamp
sands with ochre fists, ore boats stack up lee

of the stone, and entire beaches stand up
to walk away. At Marquette, two lovers
walk onto Black Rocks, sacrificial lambs—
their bodies will never be recovered.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, 1842 TERRITORY

Deep time and song, these infinite nations
under cathedral woodland dome, boundless,
long as memory, tall as a story
spun summer from spring, winter from autumn,
sugar bush from trout stream from wolf hymn, moon
to the sun, salt to sweet sea, all fire,
all the branches swaying, leaf and needle,
soul seed dirt to green to gold, queued to choir.
Then snake, the booze hag jig, the winking eye.
Mowed down to cord and plow, built mine and rail,
burnt bar and blade—give an inch, give a mile,
give a swollen river of blood. Gut shot,
       call it by name. Gone to ground and held on
       mother tongue, lost, but come again in word:

Maananoons. “No such thing as a trash tree.”
Just white washed hands. Patience is a weapon
is a sign is a wheel is medicine.
But poison, too—relearn the tell. Wiigwaas.
Giizhik. Biisaandago-zhingwaak. Can’t duck
and dodge the unlearned thing, can’t eat a poem,
can’t dance atop a land acknowledgement.
A gravestone by any other name is.
Less than a prayer. Still, we could turn east
to an island thick bearded, burl and boll.
Our choices could kindle to gossamer
green, quick between crow’s return and chorus
      frog. Together, zagaakwaa ezhaayin
      the forest is dense where you are going.