Published on Academy of American Poets (

Gray Eraser

There is no one to scold,
even when the heavens deem
the most abject of failures
receptive to correction.
Likewise in cackleless sleep,
the magpies remain tucked away.
A mother can no longer dismiss
her child as a spectacular waste
of an education. Even the wind
stills its sighs in the dry and bare
branches of the nearby white
spruce damaged by Lirula blight.
Meanwhile, a pearl-green fox
retracts its untrussed tail
through an eastward sky
thick with unfamiliar stars.
If I wake missing the cold,
fresh sound of new snow,
I may still miss the kinds of places
that scar me and complete
my sorrow. Late at night,
the birches must let their leaves
pitch and imbricate the floor
of what is left of the woods
near what is left of me.


Copyright © 2017 by Joan Naviyuk Kane. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 10, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is about blight but it’s about more than blight, and then it’s not about blight. It’s part of my lexical strategy. I’m pretty sure the strategy—along with the survival upon which it is predicated—is being encoded by the living and dying world.”
—Joan Naviyuk Kane


Joan Naviyuk Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of Milk Black Carbon (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017). She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Date Published: 2017-11-10

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