By Elena Karina Byrne
I heard them, far-off, deep calling
from behind death’s invisible floor door. Their wallow
metronome from the after-rain mud was one giant body.
Arizona’s yellow arm’s length of light all the way
to my own body standing at the edge of their field held
me. I moved toward them and they toward me, as if to ask
for something from nothing, as memory does, each face
dumbfounded … dumb and found by
the timeframe of my own fear, surrounded at dusk.
There was a plastic grocery bag, its ghost body cornered
small against a tree, and there was a heavy smell.
Desolation is equal to contained energy now.
Their heavy bodies slow toward me, my own
slow inside their circle without kulning.
Kulning is a Swedish song for cows, not
a pillowcase pulled over the head. Here, the mountains could be seen
from far away. There’s an abandoned physics, a floor door,
my own head-call herding me, in-hearing nothing but them.
Bone for bone’s female indicates the inside
of the mouth when singing is grief alone and is curved.
You can’t stop shifting no matter how
slow. It sounds like confusion in one direction.
I wanted to tell you this in your absence. It sounds like the oak,
it sounds like the oak of floorboards in God’s head.
Source: Poetry (September 2017)
Poet, editor, and multi-media artist Elena Karina Byrne is poetry consultant and moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, literary programs director for the Ruskin Art Club, and a judge for the Kate/Kingsley Tufts Prizes in poetry. She served as regional director of the Poetry Society of America for 12 years and has also served as executive director of AVK Arts.
More Poems about Nature
What Women Are Made Of
We are all ventricle, spine, lung, larynx, and gut.
Clavicle and nape, what lies forked in an open palm;
we are follicle and temple. We are ankle, arch,
sole. Pore and rib, pelvis and root
and tongue. We are wishbone and gland and molar
Of Tribulation, these are They,
Denoted by the White.
— Emily Dickinson
in the split geode
a Santa’s grotto
every surface —
like sea urchins’ —
in the doorways
sleepers from the womb
to make of anything succulent