issue 5 · vol. 2
featuring essays by
Matthew Dickerson · William Henry Searle · Marianne Werner · Amber Ornelas
with poetry by Susan Edwards Richmond · Pepper Trail · Ron Roth · Taylor Brorby · Gwendolyn Morgan · Christopher Hansen · Hannah Rodabaugh · Amanda Biltucci · Chad Hanson · Gonzalinho da Costa · Tricia Knoll · Bill Prindle · Claudia F. Savage · Cameron Price · M. L. Lyons · Mark B. Hamilton · Jessica Martini · Kathryn Haydon · Andy Thorstenson · Suzanne Rogier Marshall 3 and photography by Ron Roth · Katherine Minott · Russell Streur
WRITTEN RIVER • journal of eco-poetics
A Hiraeth Press Publication
Winter 2014 – 2015 . Volume 5 Issue 2
¶Written River is a literary journal published by Hiraeth Press which focuses on poetry and non-fiction prose exploring nature and our relationship to it. Published as an annual anthology, we strive to encourage the discipline of eco-poetics and return the voice of the poet to the body of the Earth. Eco-poetics is poetry in which the energy of the ecosystem flows through the poem, creating a written river of words which ebbs with the creativity of the entire Earth community. Written River marks the confluence of many streams and many voices as they flow back into the nourishing ground of the watershed. Founding Editors Jason Kirkey L.M. Browning Associate Editor J. Kay MacCormack Issue Design Jason Kirkey Written River is published by Hiraeth Press.
submission guidelines Written River accepts unsolicited submissions. The theme of eco-poetics runs through each issue of our journal, though we define this broadly to include not only poetry but nonfiction essays as well. We are interested in essays and poems that focus on themes of conservation, rewilding, place-based narratives, natural history, and contemplative ecology. We prefer cross-genre pieces that are capable of wedding literary and scientific voices. We also accept work with a contemplative or spiritual theme, but require such pieces to display a strong environmental theme. We recommend that you review a couple recent back issues before submitting to ensure that your work is a good fit for the journal. To submit, please send a short cover letter, biographical statement and a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) attachment of: •Up to 5 poems not exceeding 15 pages.
•Nonfiction work of 5000 words or less. Please send a ¶Hiraeth Press has been publishing since 2006 with a focus on environ- query letter if you would like us to consider a longer mental literature.We primarily publish nonfiction books exploring themes piece. of conservation, rewilding, place-based narratives, natural history, and contemplative ecology. We accept submissions that range from meditations on Unfortunately, at this time we are no longer accepting nature to well-researched yet accessible nonfiction titles. Broadly, we are unsolicited art or photography. interested in books that bring together science and poetry, bridging the gap between knowing the earth and knowing the self. Please use the submission form on our website at: www. hiraethpress.com/written-river. We review submissions Poetry is the language of the earth. This includes not only poems but the after the deadline has passed so please be patient if you slow flap of a heron’s wings across the sky, the lightning of its beak hunting submit in the shallow water; autumn leaves and the smooth course of water over early. Submitted works should be previously unpubstones and gravel. These, as much as poems, communicate the being and lished. We are open to publishing a limited number of meaning of things. We strive to produce works of poetry, whether they are poems/ essays may have appeared in print or online, but actual poems or nonfiction. We are passionate about poetry as a means of the author must hold sole rights to the work. Simultareturning the human voice to the chorus of the wild. neous submissions are permitted; however, we ask to be notified promptly if your submitted work is accepted The Welsh word hiraeth (pronounced here-eyeth) encapsulates the spirit elsewhere. by which we strive and that the books we publish hope to inspire. A direct translation of the word might be something like an intense longing for We produce one issue of Written River each year. The one’s homeland. Here at Hiraeth Press we believe that our collective human deadline to be included in each year’s issue is August homeland is the still-wild places of the earth. 1st.
Letter from the Editor
6 Essay ∙ The Clearcut, the Cutthroat, and the Cascade Effect ∙ Matthew Dickerson 10 12 13 15 16 19 20 20 22 24
Three for the Western Island ∙ Susan Edwards Richmond A Day on the Platte ∙ Pepper Trail Passenger Pigeons ∙ Pepper Trail Audubon’s “Ivory-billed Woodpeckers” ∙ Pepper Trail The Snowy One ∙ Ron Roth Snapshot ∙ Ron Roth Scoria ∙ Taylor Brorby Delight ∙ Taylor Brorby She Speaks for the Bees ∙ Gwendolyn Morgan Autumn Equinox ∙ Gwendolyn Morgan
featured photography 16-18 Ron Roth 42 Katherine Minott 51, 57 Russell Streur
26 Essay ∙ Self-Realisation on the Kumano Kodo ∙ William Henry Searle 31 31 32 33 34 35 36 36 37
Ducktrap River ∙ Christopher Hansen Myrmeleonidinae ∙ Christopher Hansen For Dalmatian Toadflax ∙ Hannah Rodabaugh Dalmatian Toadflax Feels Unappreciated ∙ Hannah Rodabaugh Vestigial Structure ∙ Amanda Biltucci The Muskrat Lurks ∙ Amanda Biltucci Boneflower ∙ Chad Hanson Abel & Rose ∙ Chad Hanson The ocean is a desert . . . ∙ Gonzalinho de Costa
38 Essay ∙ Mysterious Monarchs ∙ Marianne Werner 43 44 46 47 49 50 52 53 54 55
Conversations with the Snake in the Wall of the Poet’s Classroom ∙ Tricia Knoll The Way the Wind Blows ∙ Tricia Knoll Walking with Higgs ∙ Bill Prindle Loon Requiem ∙ Bill Prindle You Go Into the Woods Because You Miss Your Body ∙ Claudia F. Savage Nantahala ∙ Claudia F. Savage Asking ∙ Cameron Price Forgiveness ∙ Cameron Price Cairn ∙ M. L. Lyons Song of the Ice Snake ∙ M. L. Lyons
58 Essay ∙ The Four Masks of Wild River ∙ Amber Ornelas 59 62 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71
Of Bayous and Pine Sand ∙ Mark B. Hamilton Brins Mesa after the Fire ∙ Jessica Martini Whispers from the Prairie ∙ Kathryn Haydon Gray Morning on the Pennsylvania Turnpike ∙ Kathryn Haydon Winter Koan ∙ Suzanne Rogier Marshall On the Edge of the Androscoggin ∙ Suzanne Rogier Marshall Weather Report ∙ Suzanne Rogier Marshall Mt. Hood’s hidden garden ∙ Andy Thorstenson recompose ∙ Andy Thorstenson Contributor Biographies 3
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letter from the editor Dear Readers, ÂśFrom our office in Massachusetts, we are buried under about eight feet of total snow accumulation this winter. I have, despite the cold, been warmed by the writing we have gathered up for this issue of Written River. With each issue we have produced since we founded the journal in 2010, I have felt it has become more and more of an embodiment of the eco-poetic writing we set out to cultivate and promote. This winterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s issue of Written River marks both a beginning and an end. This is the last issue of Written River we will produce in its current format. The next issue, which we will release this autumn, will bring with it many changes. Most noticeable will be change from a biannual, magazine-style literary journal to a yearly, anthology-style journal in book format. The new format will allow us to print more and longer essays in addition to poetry. Since we began Written River, our commitment has been to make the journal freely available to all. When we founded the journal, we envisioned it as an electronic offering. A print version has nonetheless been made available with each issue. With this change, we will be focusing more on the print journal and striving, even more, to increase the quality of work we publish. As part of this effort, we hope to be able to include more substantive essays in order to more deeply explore the theme of eco-poetics and environmental literature. In addition to the change in format, we are launching a new website dedicated to the journal. In time, this site will be filled with selected pieces from our back issues and will be updated annually with material from each new issue. While we will not be posting everything on the site upon release, we intend to share a substantive portion of the journal each year. 2015 will mark many changes to Hiraeth Press and a renewed commitment to our mission and to our continued growth as a publisher. The mission of Hiraeth Press is to, in brief, rewild the human voice. I view the change in format as an opportunity to hew ever closer to that mission, to rewild Written River. We hope that this issue of Written River will inspire you to explore your own wild nature, just as it has inspired us. Yours from the snow and ice, Jason Kirkey
the clear cut, the cutthroat, and the cascade effect Matthew Dickerson ¶Just off the deck of the small cabin where I am writing, a cutthroat trout lives in a shallow pool beneath the shade of an overcut bank and a canopy of red alder. She makes her home just downstream of a shallow riffle that oxygenates her cool clear water and provides a breeding place for the insects that offer her sustenance. She is a beautiful creature. Her sides are a soft light green with hints of yellow. A splotch of thin watercolor pink brightens her belly, but it is not visible from above. Her back is a darker green mottled with black spots, and this is the side of her seen by kingfishers, otters, and stream bank predators. Or, ideally for her, it is the side not seen as it blends with the gravelly stream bed below her. Like her older, larger, and more famous steelheaded cousins, she has a hint of metallic sheen on her jaws and gill plates. What sets her apart from her relatives is the thin but bright ruby necklace that adorns her throat and gives her species its common name. She wears her bling proudly. Several days ago, when I arrived at the cabin and discovered the fish, I named her Carol. I have come to care about Carol. Though I cannot see her from the deck of the cabin where I write, I could easily toss a small stone into the pool where she usually lies an inch or so above some sand in the cool shade, waiting for food. There is plenty of food for her so I doubt she ever has to wait long. Shotpouch Creek has one of the richest and most diverse arrays of aquatic insects I have seen in a stream this small. Turning over even a small rock in the current I find mayflies, caddis flies, and 6
stoneflies of several varieties. In the late afternoon and evening, the air around the stream thickens with hatches of these aquatic insects. There are small vivid golden stoneflies called “yellow sallies,” awkward and almost prehistoric larger stoneflies with dark green bodies, and mayflies that mistake the blue dew-damp roof of the Honda Odyssey minivan for a stream and attempt to lay their eggs there. There are small crayfish in the stream also. They look like miniature lobsters. And they will make a wonderful and filling gourmet meal for a lovely young cutthroat out on the town in her green gown and ruby necklace. Two or three times a day I creep down to the water and look at – or for – Carol. She is usually there, until my shadow or some other movement spooks her and she darts upstream toward the concealment of an overhanging branch, or beneath the old submerged log. It is good to know she is there, even if I catch only a quick glimpse of her. When I walk down to look and don’t see her, I feel disappointment. I even worry. Despite the incredible abundance of food in the stream, life is dangerous for a seven-inch cutthroat. This shallow stream, though full of food, does not have much deep water in which to hide. The world is full of threats. A few years ago my older brother and his family moved to Alaska. He moved there for work, when the collapse of the U.S. economy cost him his business and job in North Carolina. It was an indirect chain of events. It might be traced back several steps if one had the mind. The second to last step involved his biggest client,
and biggest debtor, declaring bankruptcy and defaulting on several months of pay owed to my brother for work he had already done. It was an economic blow from which recovery was impossible. I guess you could say, then, that it was economic necessity that forced my brother to uproot from the southern Appalachians and move thousands of miles northwest to the shadow of Mount McKinley. To be honest, moving from North Carolina to Alaska was in most ways not a hardship. My brother and sister-in-law and their two sons have always loved the outdoors. They hike, fish, camp, rock climb, backpack, kayak, canoe, snowshoe, and crosscountry ski. And Alaska is replete with opportunities for all these things. They did have one fear, however. Anchorage was a long way from their friends and closest relatives. A long and very expensive way. “Who is going to come and visit us now?” my brother and sister-in-law asked each other one day, as the reality of their cross-continent move settled in. They pondered that question a few moments, feeling a little discouraged. But not too much time passed before they suddenly both looked at each other and answered the question at the same time. “Matthew will.” They were right. In their first five years in Anchorage, I managed to visit them four times. In part because of my brother, I am now doing research on transient killer whale predation on other marine mammals in southeast Alaska in collaboration with a marine biologist from the NOAA and UAA and with another computer scientist at UAA. This is fascinating research for me. This project gives me a chance to put my knowledge about computer modeling toward a project that might give insight into the world in which we live and the way it functions; insight into the intricate chains of influence that link life together. Might the overhunting of grey whales cause the transient killer whales to seek other food such as sea otters, causing a decline in sea otters, and a corresponding overpopulation in sea urchins, the favorite food of sea otters, thus resulting in a dramatic loss in coral as the coraleating urchins overpopulate? This new research also gives me a chance to incorporate real world ecological modeling problems into the undergraduate environmental studies and computer science curriculums at Middlebury College. This is a real improvement over what are often entirely synthetic examples that instead train students to make more computer games. Of course the research has also given me opportunity to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Anchorage. And to go backpacking in Chugach State Park with its wild blueberry and cranberry strewn meadows, remote glacial-fed lakes and peaks that rise from sea level to 10,000 feet over just a dozen or so miles. My research, and the presence of my brother’s family in Anchorage has given me a chance to hike and fish on the famous salmon-filled waters and emerald green lakes of the Kenai Peninsula. It has given me the chance to go sea-kayaking in Kachemak Bay where I paddle past seals and sea otters and share a small lagoon with six bald eagles and 100,000 pink salmon along with my two oldest sons, my brother
and sister-in-law, and two nephews. Hopefully in the future I will share this also with my wife Deborah and my other son. So where are we? A construction company in North Carolina goes bankrupt, so Middlebury College professor Matthew Dickerson from Vermont – who knows nothing about the construction business – starts doing killer whale research and computer modeling with a pinniped and cetacean biologist at UAA. Now my brother’s new job in Alaska has kept him more aware of environmental concerns, especially related to global climate change. He frequently passes on to me some of the climate change news in our country’s forty-ninth state. And I have become more aware of the issues myself through my visits and my killer whale research, along with the newsletters my brother sends. I have for years been aware of the concept of cascading effects. There is a whole lot more living downstream of us than we imagine. Take salmon. I am an avid fly fisher, so I read a great deal about trout and salmon. I confess that my passion can at times be anthropocentric, and even self-centric. Still, for years I have had some sense that salmon were not just the object of desire of anglers like myself, but the very lifeblood of the north Pacific. I have long known, for example, that many marine mammals like seals and resident killer whales, countless birds including bald eagles, and land animals as large as grizzly bears, are all largely dependent on salmon and their annual migrations. I suppose that is why anglers so often share the salmon streams with the bears. And why, when we do, we carry pepper spray. “Go to Alaska,” as the saying on the t-shirt reminds us. “There is nothing to fear but fear itself . . . and the bears.” Take away the salmon, however, and the bears will die. But I have recently learned that the dependencies go much deeper. The cascade effect cascades far longer. It isn’t just living salmon and a few big mammals whose fates are intertwined. It’s dead salmon, and the eggs of salmon, and . . . everything. Everything! I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. All life in Alaska, land and marine, gets back to salmon somehow. I have read that most of the available nitrogen in the soils of the Pacific Northwest comes from salmon, which bring it inland from the ocean. It comes from dead and rotting salmon that finds its way to shore, or from salmon that is eaten and defecated on land. “Does a bear poop in the woods?” the old question asks. The answer is “yes.” And when they do, they spread nitrogen that came to them from the ocean in the salmon they ate. In coastal British Columbia, I am told, trees within two miles of a salmon stream can grow twice as fast as those further away. Remove salmon and not just bears suffer, but the trees suffer. And, of course, everything that depends on the trees. The cascade effect. Dead salmon also drifts back downriver and into the ocean. That should be obvious, I suppose. But what is not obvious, and what I only recently learned, is that the rotten salmon flesh actually drifts and is carried by tides some five miles or more out into
“So when you destroy a salmon stream, you destroy not only the salmon but everything that depends on them . . .”
the ocean. Five miles. Halibut come in closer to shore seasonally in order to feast on dead salmon. So do crabs and a host of other creatures. It is a big annual banquet. So when you destroy a salmon stream, you destroy not only the salmon but everything that depends on them, from bears and eagles to seals and whales and halibut, to even the trees. That, I suppose, is one reason I and so many others were so concerned about the proposed Pebble Mine and were thankful this past year when the proposition to allow it was defeated – at least for a time. But there is an equal threat to salmon, and it has been going on for a long time. The relationship between salmon and trees goes both directions. Clear cuts destroy salmon streams. The roads necessary for the clear-cutting equipment is itself often devastating to local salmon. For, although salmon often start up the large rivers, when it is time to lay their eggs on redds they must eventually find a small stream, often just a few inches deep. Roads, unless made with tremendous care, often block or clog these streams. The logging itself is even worse. “Clear cuts,” as the phrase suggests, are complete. They remove all the trees. And in doing so, they remove the greatest natural barrier to erosion. Streams and rivers below clear cuts and carelessly made lumber roads die. They silt over. They shift in dramatic and unnatural ways. The redds disappear. Eggs that silt over do not hatch. Ultimately, the salmon die. And when the salmon die . . . well, as I noted, everything dies. Salmon are the lifeblood. I remember driving across Vancouver Island for the first time in the late 1970s, and then flying from there up to northern British Columbia. I remember seeing the massive clear cuts in the Pacific Northwest. Entire mountainsides denuded. Not acres, or tens of acres, or even hundreds of acres, but thousands and tens of thousands of acres laid bare by the chainsaw. Even then, though I was still a teenager, the sight put a lump in my throat and brought me close to tears. I wondered how it was tolerated. I remember also reading that much of the salmon and steelhead fishing on Vancouver Island had been destroyed. The death of these rivers did not result from overfishing, either inland or offshore. It resulted from unmitigated erosion and siltation caused by clear cutting. The 8
salmon simply had no place left to lay their eggs. Even if they could survive the brutal upriver swim, their eggs could not take hold. I grew up in New England. My first experience with serious logging operations was on a camping, canoeing, and fishing trip in the North Maine Woods on the Allagash River in 1972. I remember seeing swaths of clear-cut hillsides that might have been a hundred to several hundred acres large – a fraction the size of the operations in British Columbia, but still enough to catch my attention. I was too young then to have much sense of how well those operations were managed from an ecological sense. I know that the logging operations in northern New England the previous century were devastating. Entire major rivers were wiped out by the loggingcaused erosion and sedimentation, the road-building, the use of waterways to float logs, and even the intentional dumping of oil into small streams to kill black flies that can make a loggers’ life in northern Maine downright miserable. I have a sense, however, that by the early 1970s the practices were much healthier. I know that even then there was a two mile buffer around the Allagash River. That was a substantial buffer. And I know also that the terrain on which I saw those large cuts was relatively flat. It was not a terrain particularly given to massive erosion problems. Today it is even better. Vermont, where I live, is a leader in small family farms and logging operations, in selective logging, and in certified sustainable lumber. All the wood in the building where I work, which in the year 2000 was the largest building project in the state, came from certified sustainable sources. But all of this brings me back to the little cabin on Shotpouch Creek, and to Carol, who for a few short years, will hopefully dwell in the little pool below the deck. And to all of her cousins upstream and down. Every morning, all week, we have heard the sounds of chainsaws coming from the woods across the street. Often we hear them in stereo. Two saws, at slightly different pitches, revving up in anticipation of the great trunk they will bite into. The stereo droning of the saws is punctuated every ten or fifteen minutes by the frightening loud boom as another of the majestic trees that line the northeast side of the valley crashes down, echoing up the valley and seeming to shake the earth itself.
There is a new clear cut in progress just a hundred yards or so down the road from the cabin. It is not huge. Nothing like the scale of those in British Columbia. Not even quite as large as the cuts in Maine in the early 1970s. Each section of clear cut measures in tens of acres, not tens of thousands. Yet altogether it is substantial. It is mostly conifers that are falling: Douglas fir and western hemlock. But the loggers do not discriminate. It is a clear cut. That means every tree comes down. A large bigleaf maple is felled and lands on the very edge of the road. Its round-lobed leaves, still green, dangle on branches overhead as we pass down the road below the cut. It will take two or three weeks for them to suck the remaining moisture from thick trunk before they wither to brown. I stood at the bottom of one of the cuts one morning and watched the work going on. Dismayed as I was by the result – by the ravaging of an entire hillside – I found I was not at all angry with the loggers. Indeed, I was profoundly impressed by their skill. I live on about sixty acres of wooded Vermont hillside and I heat my house by wood. Between ice storms, wind storms, and disease, there are more dead, damaged, and diseased trees on our little plot than I can keep up with. Black birch. Ash. Beech. Maple. Butternut. American hop hornbeam. An occasional hickory or elm. I make regular use of my chainsaw. Though I recognize it is dangerous, as many tools are, and I always carry a certain amount of trepidation when I begin to fell a big tree, by and large I am comfortable with that chainsaw in my hands. But the two men up on the hill make me feel like a toddler: like nothing more than pretender at the trade. Taking down huge trees of perhaps double the diameter and height of almost anything I ever cut, while working on a slope so steep it can be difficult just to stand on, they still for the most part fell those trees just where they wanted. And efficient? Amazingly so. They took down more trees in a day than I do in a year, and probably more total tons of wood in a week than I will in my lifetime – in part by using a chainsaw with a blade double the length of mine, and probably double the power. I wouldn’t even want to pick up one of their saws. They had worked to learn a craft, and to learn it well. And at least one of them also gave every indication of being a
caring farther. Down in a pickup truck watching traffic on the road – making sure that no cars would try to pass while a tree was being felled – was a woman in her late teens. The daughter, it turned out, of one of the lumberjacks. Moments after my friend and co-author Dave and I stopped by her truck to chat, her cell phone rang. We could see her father up the hill calling down to her, and caught a bit of the conversation. He was making sure she was okay. That we were neither local rednecks there to harass an attractive young woman, nor bullying confronting anti-logging environmentalists giving her a hard time. The woman, it turned out, was going to be studying at a local university. The father was up risking his life clearing the hillside of its trees to help pay for her education. Still, my admiration for the skill of these men did not change the way that hillside looked. The clear cut was happening on a very steep slope where there was a break in the ridgeline. It is the sort of place where water will come rushing down adjacent slopes after a rain, and then cascade along the steep bottom of the V-shaped cut toward the stream. The cut comes all the way to the edge of the dirt road that leads to the cabin. Felled trees dangle over the edge of the road. Just below the road, at the bottom of a steep bank, runs Shotpouch Creek. In places, the edge of the cut is almost as close to the creek as my deck is to Carol’s little pool. Perhaps twenty yards separates the fallen trees from the stream. And I wonder what will happen to a whole generation of mayflies, caddis flies, stoneflies, and the little cutthroat who eat these insects and lay their eggs on the stream bottom. What will be the impact when that first rain comes and washes down that new clear cut, across the dirt road, and into the stream? If there is any food in the river, Carol will find it. She is well adapted in so many ways – color and speed and instincts – to hide from predators. And even when she one days feeds a kingfisher, she has a little cousin living in a slightly smaller pool downstream ready to take her place. What she and her population are not well adapted for are chainsaws. I think I’m going to go and check on her right now. Cabin at Shotpouch Creek, Spring Creek Project August, 2013 9
three for the western island Susan Edwards Richmond I. Flying Mountain
II. Hermit Thrush
Cedar, spruce, pine, roots twist and pile, writhe up the mountain, low open forest, dead branches, blowdown. Our girls scramble ahead.
notes start in a high attic of the brain, melody sliding down skull’s curved bone into the cord of the spine.
The climb is steep and quick. A swallowtail darts at the tree line, at the top, splay-tailed juncos explode the low branches. A young couple has hiked here to read and stretch and talk. A marker claims the summit – 284 feet. How can we see so far from such a modest height? It’s all position, the way the peak peers over the promontory, giddy distance, water at our feet, the way the high, soft clouds receive the light. Later I will hold the map in my hands, name the island at the foot of the slope, the sound, the rock-scrabble shore. Now, I want only to concentrate myself, a solid being finding foothold on granite and root. We are shadowed, descending, but unaware, as our daughters, crouched in hiding, slip softly behind, the crush of their footsteps over moss-covered trail never quite reaching us. A fritillary flattens its wings against stone. We inherit the warblers’ low buzz. In that other life, I am diffuse. It would not take too strong a wind to blow me away.
First on one side of the path, then on the other, the filament plucks and pulls across the chest, anchored in fern and pine. Rustling betrays a single singer, movements too methodical for any squirrel. When it starts from the leaves and flies, chestnut pours across mosaic floor. The second singer, concealed, continues unbroken, and you wait for an answer, your body a tuning fork struck by each tone. The first bird perches on slanted trunk, a spruce fallen, then caught by neighboring arms, the limbs a spiral of bristle brushes, the bird among them. Thrush song has always been one with the wooded damp, equal parts moss and canopy, bolete and bark, the high-wire dance of a sprung twig. But here it is so close you can see the quivering of its throat above the speckled breast, pulsing, engaging no other movement, as later, you might write these lines to your unseen mate, the only evidence your own ear – deep, deep in the forest dark – though you know he is right here. for Ilana and Dan
Untethered, fanning out from a pulse point anchored to land, we venture: one daughter crawling as close as she can, reaching into brine; the other, following invisible lines above the worst of spray, meandering as a snail; my husband, somewhere in between, backpack trundling what we’ll need – fresh water, sunscreen – to extend our stay. Out and out we walk, reel-less, unguided. We stay to see how far we can go. Isn’t that the point? Skipping, leaping, island to island, wading when we must, as what we steady ourselves against with hips and fingertips comes close to crushing each depression’s sea: filigree shrimp, whirligigs, snails, the limpet’s clinging kiss, barnacles’ craggy lines. It’s not our last day, but we already see the faintest outlines emerging, the edges of our freedom, defining what will stay within its delicate walls, coiled in the whorls of a snail. One daughter moves through her own stories, the point a vast backdrop, props secondary to drama, the doors that close, windows open. For the other, objects are her beads, what she ties on lengths of hemp and weaver’s floss, what ever trickles through her fingers. Her father meets her at an altar of lines defined by mussel shells. They select a periwinkle pair, clothes of barnacle sealed to their backs, a veil of seaweed, tied to make it stay, a limpet yarmulke, and driftwood chuppah coming to a point above the bride and groom. “You may kiss the snail.” No photograph can capture the diminutive bliss of this snail wedding, the ocean its own consuming film. What imprints the brain is a series of stills, saved to no other point. I rise from my seat of stone, sight lines scanning to the edge and back. The sea will no longer stay. A sandal in each hand, I gesture inland as waters draw close. The tide has turned, that visceral metaphor. As it closes in, my husband, daughter wave from their promontory, snail wedding concluded. Guests already flee to higher ground or stay submerged, holding fast. They leap in laughter, splashing over what footholds they can find. My older daughter steps carefully, over lines filling in around mirrored pools, guiding us to the base of the point, to the point where land will not be lost except to fiercest storms. Close behind, I follow her fluid music, snail pressed to the ear, lines of demarcation still unclear, what will vanish, what will stay.
Note: “Three for the Western Island” refers to the western section of Mt. Desert Island, Maine, which is quieter and less frequented by tourists. Flying Mountain and Wonderland are locations in Acadia National Park. 11
a day on the platte Pepper Trail Paddling the slow river through flat country Took us all of a long day There were no bridges to pass Only one silent trestle Rusted iron, great concrete pillars Abandoned for many years, you said From time to time, the cottonwoods Gathered on the shallow banks Gray and green, their broken limbs Casting misshapen clouds of shade More often, there were only reeds Mounded grass, and skyÂ Our talk flared and died down Was of old times, old follies Ambitions we had forgotten But, seeing each other, remembered It was strange to speak your words And learn that only in my memory did they live Mile and mile, bend after bend We came upon a great heron Who took heavily to the air Flapped slowly away with no look back Again and again, before us he flew Always leaving, but never gone
passenger pigeons petosky, michigan 1878 Pepper Trail In the brightness of day they came and brought darkness Spooking the cows, throwing the fields into shadow Their wings made the sound of a dry river, flooding On and on they came, and on and on Near dark, the bird-storm broke over the northern hills And the flocks whirled to the earth, breaking the trees The sky had never seemed so empty as that night Filled only with silent stars From farm to town the word flew, the news Where the millions were hidden, between what folded hills And we ran to harness our horses Snapped the reins, rattled off through the morning light Day after day we fired until the gun barrels were too hot to touch Our ears ringing from the shooting and the buzzing of the flies Our hands stinging from rocksalt and blood as we packed the meat At night we passed whiskey round the fires and slept in drifts of feathers The flock of millions became thousands became hundreds and then We trudged home behind our blood-stained wagons Done for the year, returning to the slow work of the farm The passage of the pigeons already a fading agitation In the springs of later years, we would straighten to scan the sky Speculate that the flocks had flown to the distant moon perhaps And perhaps the country there was good, for the birds never returned Never again cast their shadows across our farms, the woods, the world
audubon’s “ivory-billed woodpeckers” Pepper Trail We view them, as we must, with fore-knowledge of loss These three great birds demolishing a tree, the bark flying Their postures twisting with energy, the pale blades of beak Stabbing toward the revealed beetle, we can almost hear The scrape of claws on wood, almost picture the swoop As they drop away from the ravaged treetop, and then The blackwhite flash as they open their wings to rise An elegant curving line, away through the moss-hung woods Ivory-bills are fated to be symbols now, not birds, emblems Of lost America, the wilderness that was cleared away That we were born too late to see, and this painting A composition in Audubon’s most flamboyant style Catching their exuberance, their comedy and grandeur Showing us what life they had, is a joy and a sorrow A symphony for instruments that no longer exist A hymn for voices that will never be heard again
the snowy one Ron Roth He points the way to creases in the swamp sedge, its pastel weavings choked with light. Confident of my trust he wades into the pluff mud towards a turtle, nonchalant and frozen in a meditation. Yoga-like the turtle glides beneath a lily pad. The pond is sanctified I’m told so I look around for blessings. The Snowy One returns with tidings: “Unto us is born a frog!” he trumpets proudly. Sacredly deformed and poignant in his gleaming jade the frog invites my sympathy and for this generous impulse I receive my first indulgence from the Snowy One who lifts his head and looks away.
All photos on this and facing page © Ron Roth
snapshot Ron Roth A steep descent into a glade where fat leaves, drunk with summer, tipple and fall. Venerable brown vellums, waxed and curling, they fracture the pale, canary light. Jagged beams stray into webs of Hackberry vines, reforming in genteel radiance. Leaves click and tap the trunks of Bur Oaks, follow their rivers of wrinkled bark, furrowed and flowing swiftly down. A blood red coven of maple leaves weighs a frail branch to the ground. Resting nearby, a long row of freight cars – their deep, metal groans rifle up the line, echoing off the domes of trees above the tracks. I move on quickly over shallow trails perfected by the Pottawatomie; set the “f ” Stop to capture a sliver of light, to catch myself in the act of serenity. The photograph? A middle-aged man with a moustache, sitting on a fallen tree trunk, smiling like an idiot. Found a dozen acres of prairie with huge clumps of Slough grass, their razory edged stalks in a damp hollow beyond the frame. Saw steep terraces of Blue Stems flee up from bottomlands in windward swales their perfect arcs bent generously in the wind. Leaned into a fugitive gust of it, parried it like sprays of Indian Grass, rocking back and forth and flat out happy.
Photos on facing page © Ron Roth
scoria Taylor Brorby What sits in the cracks of your soft pinkness, hid from the waiting world of desire and lust, where rain and wind beat their way into the trammeled pathways of your pores? Long ago, when lightning lit the prairie into a electric grid of fire and smoke did you want to sneak away, to hide in a cove of love, swaddled in a blanket? But that was not your destiny, you were meant to be burnt – to burn through the years, changing and morphing, shedding your skin like a chrysalis revealing the inner beauty of delight, fashioning a new garment for a new day. When you stepped out, awash in a prairie sky, did the neighbors take a new look at you, you who hid for oh those many years beneath a film of blackness? Did you elongate your form, chuckle and say, This is the day.
delight Taylor Brorby I like people best who hurl themselves at their passions, who live inside their furies, who aren’t afraid to rant and rave. People who take the months of winter to build canoes for summer, who knead bread because they need to smell yeast and flour dancing to become one. In my youth I stood, brush in hand, in awe at the whipping wheat on the berm behind my house, looking for the far-off hint of tomorrow, wondering, Where did yesterday go? I fought like a pike with a hook in its mouth, unrelenting and fierce for a world filled with the necessity of beauty. I genuflected to the cottonwoods, leafy spurge, mica speckled stones. As my chest swelled like the red-breasted robin’s I thought, Yes, this is a life.
she speaks for the bees Gwendolyn Morgan
“ . . . sweeter than honey, even the drippings from the honeycombs.” ¶Psalm 19:10 Mama, what if there were no honeybees? the six year old girl asks inquisitively, auburn curls at her temples eyes the color of Hostas in late September, she asks again her question about the bees. I’m afraid it would be very sad. The flowers and trees depend on them. we all do . . . . her voice trails off as she considers how to explain the complex process of pollination to a child. Bees go from flower to flower, transforming nectar into honey. They pollinate our favorite fruits like Honey-crisp apples and Desiree peaches. The girl sticks out her lower lip, the color of Pink Pearl apples, pulls her teddy bear close to her chest. It hurts when they sting us. Outside the hospital we watch the bees slowly move from Daisy to Dahlia, the late-blooming flowers of autumn. The mother with end-stage metastatic breast cancer finding ways to tell her daughter that she was dying now, along, with the bees. In June we learned over 50,000 bees were found dead outside the outlet mall in Wilsonville. The flowering Linden trees in the parking lot sprayed with Dinotefuran, a common insecticide, clumps of dead bees on the sidewalks. Monocrops replacing small diverse farms, small selection of pollen, malnourished bees, neonicotinoids, pharmaceuticals designed to mimic plant-based nicotine, climate change, the long list of probable causes not unlike the causes of cancer, no longer an epidemic, pandemic. The bees with iridescent wings, delicate membranes, colonies Queen bees with royal jelly, Worker bees, intricate communities, a part of the luminous thread, sun-lit honeycombs dripping with ambrosia, the music of thousands of wings.
The mother remembers playing Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee”1 on her silver flute as she watches the U.S. Security of State announce that Syria “crossed global red lines.”2 She closes her eyes with the painful news clips, clumps of dead bodies on the sidewalks. This afternoon she drinks tea with Hisbiscus, Chamomile, Peppermint and Rose petals, wishes she had enough breath to play her flute, winces. Thousands of civilians in Damascus are found with neurotoxic symptoms. How would anyone gas their people with Sarin or any chemical weapon? How would a military intervention not impact all the children of the world? “Neither our country not our conscience can afford the cost of silence,” the diplomat continues. What about the destruction of the environment by our chemicals? She asks questions while her daughter sleeps, wrapped in a soft floral blanket. Do bees have a sense of righteous anger? About colony collapse? Do they understand how sweet the laws of Nature? Are they simply in deep grief as they hum another requiem? She pauses. I don’t think the bees use explicatives, she says. If they did – what would they tell us? notes 1 “Flight of the Bumblebee” from the opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov called The Tale of Tsar Saltan, Op. 57. 2 “Syria Chemical arms: ‘Global red line’ crossed.” John Kerry quoted by BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24008768. 8 September 2013 11:22 ET.
Photo © Thangaraj Kumaravel
autumn equinox Gwendolyn Morgan Kingfisher wears cerulean blue grey-white feathers flies over the water with small even swoops. She says she is beading the afternoon to evening mindfully flying from thin tree branch to solemn stump fishing for rainbow trout minnows, small water skippers. Her iridescent fish scales are beaded to sun dogs, atmospheric phenomenaÂ of cloud rainbows. She loudly breaks the silence between the crows with her announcement: it is time! It is time to cradle the light of the afternoon sun. It is time to have a small snack before dinner. It is time to listen to the water on river-stones. It is time to ease weary bones along deer trails leading to pools of deep waters, past layers of fir and cedar, leaves and mosses, layers of old intentions. It is time to cultivate creativity, compassion, silence, gentleness, peace. It is time to welcome the balance of light and dark, Libra New Moon, rounds beads of galaxies, star maps of our ancestors. It is time to smooth feathers of fear and sadness, to preen, to gather our dreams, circles of women, poems, heart beats on elk drum, voices of flutes like bird song, winged migrations, feathers, repetitions of beads, voices, songs, over and over. It is time, she says, it is time.
self-realisation on the kumano kodo japan, may 2014
William Henry Searle
Abridged from Lungs of My Earth: A Personal Ecology Forthcoming from Hiraeth Press in April 2015
“More and more I realize mountain forests are good for efforts in the way. Sound of the valley brook enters the ears, moonlight pierces the eyes. Outside this, not one further instant of thought.” —Zen Master Dogen “Just as a white summer cloud, in harmony with heaven and earth freely floats in the blue sky from horizon to horizon following the breath of the atmosphere – in the same way the pilgrim abandons himself to the breath of the greater life that leads him beyond the farthest horizons to an aim which is already present to him, though yet hidden from his sight.” —Lama Govinda, The Way of the White Clouds ¶I walked the Kumano Kodo. The trees were tall, the path narrow, waters clear and cool. For one week I lived a shrine at a time, gathering humility, patience, progressing towards a truth I had always felt homesick for. I wanted my footsteps to become as light as blossom and my breath to become the breeze that barely sounded through the cedars, to dissolve and merge into the breath of the greater life. The blue sky shining between the highest branches I had ever seen was the purpose, no more than that, of my walk. I did not want to become more than the things I saw, heard, touched on the Kumano. I wanted to become them, I did not want to reach after something more because so far such reaching had brought about no lasting good. I entrusted myself to the path that would bring me no further than the simple abundance of the tall trees, the fragrant woods, and birdsong that echoed to the moon. This way was the beginning and the end. Outside this, not one further instant of thought.
day one Off the bus at Takijiri I craned my neck up at the steep woods of the Kii Mountains and was taken in by a deep and silent green that smoked with an early morning mist. The bus crunched on the layby gravel as it U-turned and grumbled back over the iron and wood bridge, lurching away around the long bend of the narrow road, disappearing into the slow avalanche of mist that was curling and sweeping down, covering the bridge, the river but not the river’s sound; I held onto that sound in my ear as I adjusted my heavy pack and walked towards the beginning of the Kumano Kodo, listening to the river below and hearing my heavy heels clunk on the road. Eager to walk off this heaviness that cloaked me I bought a bamboo staff from a small tanned man who couldn’t stop bowing and stepped off the road onto the path made soft by a carpet of pine-needles and crisp leaves. A stone-trough of clear water gurgling out from a bamboo pipe was full of faded copper coins, shimmering like sleeping bronze minnows. I washed my hands and paid my gesture, bowed and turned towards the arch-shrine that loomed above me into the tree canopy. The path ran beneath it and veered up into the dense woods out from which birdsong I had never heard before thronged. Here I was at the threshold of a journey. The mist thickened, this world was quiet.
Facing page photo © Jennifer Murawski
The way rises abruptly Into cedar mists, Strange birdsong, Water breaking here and there. Arriving in Takahara for my first night’s rest I sat upon a round rock with my back pressed against an old cedar, and looked out over the Kii Mountains whose tops were almost peering up through bulks of cloud. Down from the woods beside the first house an elderly lady, the first person I had seen all day, was bent low over her vegetable patch, rummaging and sifting through the soil. Standing, taking a copper yen coin from my pocket and placing into gently into a small wooded casket that was used to prop up a weathered holy figure sheltered by a stone housing no bigger than a shoe-box, I then bowed three times, breathing out as I bent down, breathing in as I lifted, thinking upon my heart in this ancient place.
day two Soft, soft rain loosely fell through the tallest, straightest trees I had walked through so far. Rain on the Kumano Kodo Is a hundred bamboo staffs Clicking on path-stones. Who holds this one? After hours of walking in the falling veils of rain and mist I arr ived at Chikatsuyu, a village tucked between mountains, hidden from time. Hioki River, grey and shallow and wide, ran on through Chikatsuyu towards the Pacific, undergoing a pilgrimage of its own, in its own time. Down out of the green mountains that met to form a deep cleft, the river spilled and flushed onward down the wide valley floor. Make peace with me, the real, I felt the river say as it ran between my fingers and bulged up and around at my elbows as I submerged my right arm into the folding waters. Grey crystal, illuminated by the white stones that lined the bed, the water flurried up my arms as I waded out to the centre of the river.
Breathless, taken back, I vaulted back up out the water, the wind clothing me in its cold clasp, and waded back to the bank to warm myself on the stones. River eagle at Chikatsuyu. Empty village of quiet stone. Dripping water washes bitter dust from hardened cares.
day three Hot bright day, the mists, clouds, and rain seemed like a dream that faded away with each waking second more in the mountain sun. The deep green slopes vividly glimmered. One crow shone like a black jewel as it tumbled down through the maze of cedars catching the rays of the sun and the rays of shadow. Sweet wind, I breathed it in deeply, closing my eyes now and again to let the wavering light play about my closed eyes. The wind felt more like a light, or if the air itself became light, a blowing light some organ deep inside rejoiced to feel. Leaving Waraji Pass I headed clumsily down the rough path of root and broken stone that suddenly brought me out into a clearing as it levelled off at the mountain base to a clear river that brushed over smooth stones and slid on like a continuous pane of blue glass, smashing silently against the stones. I watched the shadows of a red and gold chequered butterfly dance on the surface of the turquoise stream. That grove was so quiet I could almost hear the butterflies wings rasp against the air as I entered the cool arms of the water, stripped of all my clothes, naked to Kumano.
raven were at war, clamouring . . . but for what? Walking beneath the raven that paid no attention to me, I was reminded of the local Kumano legend of the three-legged raven, Yatagarasu, which guided Emperor Jimmu in his dream to establish Japan’s first Imperial Court at Yamato. I would do nothing as grand and founding as that, but the idea that this raven may be a guide hooked me. He flew on, dipping and diving down the road, too quick for me to pursue. Would I see him again? The three-legged crow Flies towards a three-fold moon. It is time to awaken From a two-fold world. Passing through Fushigami vallage I watched a small boy run down the hill from his house to hold his mother while she dug at a rice terrace with an iron L-shaped tool. They were the first people I had seen all day and their actions, the boy and the mother, seemed a fluid part of the landscape, not at odds with it but quiet in their ways like the trees themselves that overarched the giant staircase of the rice-terraces. Late-afternoon sunlight paled to a ghostly gold hue giving off a heat that was on the brink of being lost to the cool of evening. A badger tottered towards me on the path immediately after leaving the tarmac road, quite happy and busy in its gait, then slunk stealthily into high thick grass. I parted the grass with the end of my staff but saw no happy black and white figure glaring back at me. The path snaked through fields, rising to a ridge down which an ancient staircase led towards Hongu Taisha Temple that was hidden from my sight by the dip and rise of the land. I took a moment on the quiet of the trail to bring myself back to the simple motion of my breathing, clearing the mind for the event of Hongu Shrine.
“Here I was at the threshold of a journey. The mist thickened, this world was quiet. ”
I am brought to Life By the sight and scent Of purple blossom whirling around Minashaku shrine. By mid-afternoon, the dirt path widened into a broad stone track that brought me, suddenly, out of the wood and onto a road that curved down around the round mountain side towards my place of rest for the night, Yonumine via the grand Hongu Taisha shrine, all of which were hidden from my sight by the sloping walls of mountain woods. At the first bend in the road a strong wind blew, bursting up from the valley, colliding in the tree-tops, flushing a big raven from a branch. Flustered by the wind’s rude awakening, the raven called three times in that stomach-deep way of theirs, tipped its bright black wings left to right and swished down the road, swerving up the left and taking its perch on a branch that stuck out over the wooded ravine. Throwing its baggy bearded head and throat back as it called, another wind came rollicking up the ravine, shaking the raven’s perch but this time, feet sunk tightly in the bark, it stood its ground and called again, three times, out of triumph. Wind and 28
A blossom-shower of egrets drifts through Hongu Shrine. I am a wing of white petals As I bow, fold, then rise.
day four I meditated in the dark before dawn at Yunomine in the moonlit cell of my ryokan. A full moon, distant and pinched, yellow-white and surrounded by her stars, was the point of my focus, letting each part of me flow into her glow that filled the inn-room, the night-sky, my eyes, with a ghostly light of peace my breathing became a part of – my breath not my breath but the Spirit that circulates through every pore of Being, igniting the essence of every living thing. I reached Koguchi village by early afternoon, spending a while lazing in the clear blue waters of the river, toeing the rapids and floating in the deep baths of lagoons margined by mica-glinting rocks. As I floated on the swirling waters, letting the current turn my body like a mother’s careful hand, mirroring the slow spin of the
black kites as they wheeled higher and higher, taking my breath, my being with them as they sailed up into the sky in the infinite blue that, the longer I stayed in that cocoon of stillness, expanded and became as vital as my own heart and blood, if not more. The Way blows along. Who am I to say The wind does this, My breath does that?
day five Pine needles, the curve of a single leaf budding into complete shape, the sunlight upon a tree, even the sound of my own feet scuffing up the steep and tiring steps of the Ogumotorigoe path came together in a single rhythm within which each thing had its right place and could flourish into the fullness of its being in concord with the rhythm within which it participated, the rhythm of the Way. Criss-crossing streams, arcing around boulders layered in a velvet green that cushioned my palm as I leaned on them for support as I descended the rough path, occupied much of the day’s walk interspersed with minutes of rest to glug on water, snack, and luxuriate in the ringing peace of the forest’s golden bell. Two ravens, wing on wing tacked and swerved around the trees, their calls reverberated down the sloping mountain-side. The ravens circled on down as the path skirted around the mountain, zig-zagging endlessly up to the tallest trees. I thought it was the sky I could see through the trees but it was the Pacific Ocean glimmering in the sun, huge and wild and without horizon. The Pacific stayed on my right as I stomped the path down the last of the steps into the environs of Nachi-San and its holy waterfall, Nachi-Taki, that bellowed and seethed even though it wasn’t yet visible. The falls sounded like storm-waves crashing upon a shingle shore in the dead of night, filling the silence with thunder. I couldn’t take my eyes away for the falls when I reached them. The grace and power of the water paused at the straight lip of the granite edge hundreds of meters up, then after a pause briefer than a heart-beat, fell breathlessly, attached to nothing but itself,
utterly itself, falling through the hoop of time into the bright ring of eternity that splayed out scattering, spraying wide before the pool, fanning the brave trees that reached out to sup the water, clashing and striking the rocks and rolling onward through the deep pool towards the Pacific, below Nachi-San village. How could I leave this sight behind? Stirred and moved by the release of thousands of tonnes of falling water from the mountain forests, I sat upon a stone beneath a cedar until dusk as the stars flickered and the waning moon shone upon the white-gold, plat inum silver of the falls. That is what bliss sounds and looks like, I thought, that is what enlightenment is, the breath of the breathing Way. • Sea-eagles hovered over the harbour waters of Kii-Satsurra, casting their great shadows on the surface. I watched them for half an hour or so in the dim, sea-fog light of noon, glide over the water then lift and take perch on a wire, then shriek across the town, gobbling their fish-prey caught neatly in their scissoring, spiked clench of talon. Save for the wailing eagles as they hunted over the harbour, the town was eerily quiet. A few people on bikes cycled down empty streets that were lined with closed shops and messy houses coloured only by lines and lines of laundry. Fishing boats bobbed and clacked, an old man sold octopus from a stall where they dried, flat and spread in rows in the muggy air. I walked out to the farthest point of the concrete jetty, looking back now and again at the distant profile of the Kumano Mountains, and looking forward between the cliff-stacks garlanded with windswept trees to the Pacific Ocean. The tap of my footsteps and staff echo in the mountains long after leaving Kumano. A raven is building her nest Out of cherry blossom and light.
myrmeleonidae Christopher Hansen Back when people called me Little Man I ran headfirst into more walls than my parents could count, And drank from puddles and hung head-down from branches Scaring customers at the family store. I constantly carried a Grown Up Nature Book â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Carried more than read it But read enough to learn the glories of hyraxes And to marvel past marveling at antlions Those soft and bulging infants Equipped with hard and giant jaws That lurked in pits, heaved sand at ants To trip them, hurled more missiles as they slid Lower, always lower down that cone-shaped hole Until, at the lowest point Those giant jaws erupted from the sand below And dragged the eviscerated ant Down, down again. I lived on clay, so never saw them, But my dreams, my dreams were tesselated With these mythic beasts, these antlions. Near thirty, I saw one at last. I saw and recognized this common sight of sandlands. It was as wondrous as my dreams, more wondrous than my dreams. Poor ant.
ducktrap river Christopher Hansen In early summer, the ospreys, the eagles, and I Lurked by the pool beneath the rapid Lazily dipping our blood-warm talons in And dragging forth the sea-cold alewives.
dalmatian toadflax feels unappreciated Hannah Rodabaugh “You know, I just don’t think we’re wanted here Although we talk like opera mouths Although we’re made of carded yellow Blossoms pulled up like a tail. I just don’t think appreciation matters in this Troposphere. I’m told we’ve butted the green Out and are immigrants Carrying diseases of the landscape that To germinate is almost an Epidemic As if to hurt Like spreading switch grass. I have breathed the spraying designed To pen us in. In death, We’d still be yellow though. We’d still be gone to seed in Someone’s dreams.”
author note: Dalmatian Toadflax (Linaria dalmatica) is an invasive flowering member of the figwort family that covers fields in the Western mountain areas in the spring.
Photo © Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble
for dalmatian toadflax Hannah Rodabaugh It is only the sky that we had held beyond fecundity. The biological propulsion to mate compounds misery. The future will also not let the environment choose what it wants. Our illusion of control fears any landscape that lacks a definition, which all living things lack. Only stasis understands definition and we would put this on every landscape as we are the most destructive species on earth: “I don’t even know what homeostasis is. Is environmentalism better homeostasis or worse?” I am grumbling about the lack of apex predators as I hike: stupid, kitchen-making animals are only transparent to their emotions as a way of equating women with emotions. Though scientists keep telling me we
evolved it, inescapable
reptile brain still desirable somehow. Not believing that animals may have named themselves first and that their names might be better because they were theirs. The death of a landscape’s escapable history as the death of identity. Dogs were only loyal for us to believe in loyalty.
vestigial structure Amanda Biltucci Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a fence by my house, generations old and made of limestone. It stretches over a mile; grapevines insert their gnarled fingers between the rocks, breaking them apart, tumbling them over. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t meet my neighbor every spring to mend it. Instead, I slowly dismantle it. As years pass, I take a few stones to construct a perimeter around my patio, to sculpt a portly garden gnome, to create a bench that sits next to my pond, to mark the graves of dead pets, to make a bed for phlox. I find trilobites fossilized into stone faces and run my fingers over craggy indentations of exoskeletons. I wonder if the farmer who built this fence noticed remnants of the arthropods. Perhaps he was too busy picking these rocks like obese mushrooms, wary that a cast iron plough might snap against limestone. He stacked the rocks at the side of the field, forming a sedimentary hedge; it still marks the boundary between my yard and my neighborâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s land. On windy days I wildly rake leaves so that they take flight and land on his side of the stonewall fence.
the muskrat lurks Amanda Biltucci among beavers, creeks down estuaries â&#x20AC;&#x201C; frothy grinding habitats interesting jaunty koi leave many nooks over populated quaking reeds skimming trout unyielding vegetation welling xylem yawping zooglea
boneflower Chad Hanson In the spring I walk on the prairie. I stare at the blades of grass, yearning for sun. I look at the young flowers, before the bloom, aching to be. At the bottom of a draw, I find the leg bone of an antelope. A century of hot and cold splintered the bone. Shards. Ivory. Petals. Decking the soil in between bunches of sage. I stop, so I can admire the form. The boneflower will not partake in the stampede of becoming.
abel & rose Chad Hanson Abel likes to watch her when she works in the garden. From a perch on a ridge above her backyard he stares at her fingers. Prying. Prying into the soil. He admires the way she digs a bed for each handful of seeds. She covers them, carefully. She makes a sound every time she finishes a planting. He watches her until he feels his family draw him back to their side of the mountain. He sighs. Then he turns his antlers to the north. He pushes his hooves in the dirt and nudges through the brush.
The ocean is a desert. . . Gonzalinho da Costa The ocean is a desert: No water to drink, No trees to rest, No animals to ride. The gull that glides Above the waves Is the faraway condor Surveying the sand; They are in their element. We find no home In the sea any more than We sleep in the clouds.
mysterious monarchs Marianne Werner Photos courtesy of Marianne Werner
¶Mesmerized, I watch black-orange veined wings of monarch butterflies slip easily in and out of sunbeams. Surrounded by these fluttering “souls of the dead” – so named by Aztec ancestors of the Mexican people – I make a futile grasp for the teasing mariposas as they float just beyond reach, lazily awakening to late morning warmth in their mountainous winter home in central Mexico. Thousands of lilting, dancing monarchs imprint a permanent memory. I’d visited their nesting site in these giant oyamel fir trees last year and couldn’t forget images of one of the miracles of creature endurance. So I’d returned to experience their fantasylike flitting again, to see if reports of continued plummeting numbers were true. A journey to the monarchs is no easy undertaking, but it is dwarfed by their arduous migration. For theirs is a remarkable passage, one made by few other creatures and not fully understood even by scientists. Weather variations, compounded by logging, plus the diminishing availability of winter sanctuaries, and in some areas, reduced milkweed, make the mariposas’ travels 38
challenged by more than physical distance. Yet despite the odds, and despite decreasing numbers, their yearly migration continues to enrich the lives of visitors at the Reserves where they linger in Mexico and where they display their breathtaking beauty: stained glass wings that quiver as the sun stirs them, opening, then hovering dreamily with untouchable grace and ease. My trip began in Mexico, in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, the state of Guanajuato, with a late February excursion organized by the local Audubon Society to neighboring Michoacán, location of the wintering monarch Reserves. San Miguel is a city of bright colors, folk art, fireworks, and engaging people, with a lightness and jubilation that, in a way, mirror the floating butterflies. After being on the road for five or six hours of travel, we stopped for a night at Agua Blanco near Jungapeo, an eco-resort with thermal pools and underground caves, the area highlighted by luxuriant purple flowers of blooming jacaranda trees splay-
ing against blue sky. The next day involved negotiating higher elevations to reach the aggregate nesting forest areas at El Rosario Monarch Biosphere Reserve, just outside the town of Ocampo. The Reserve is part of the World Heritage Site encompassing about 56,000 hectares (one hectare equals about two-and-a-half acres). Normally, a dozen or so major colonies of monarch butterflies, spread among four to five different locations in this Reserve and several others, inhabit long-needled oyamel firs where millions of individuals winter. But this year, according to our guide, Rodrigo, of the six reserves out of twelve open to the public, 80% of the monarchs were at El Rosario; the rest were almost empty. Once our van deposited us at 9,000 feet, we could either maneuver the steep terrain by horseback or hike up the next 2,000 feet to see the monarchs. Rodrigo recommended that we ride up and walk down. He and I both remembered last year’s trip: a 92-year old man fell off his horse on the way down and had to be rescued – hand-carried by six men downhill. Our diverse but compatible group took his advice. From a trial lawyer and his wife who lived in New Mexico to sixyear old Dahlia from Boston who had flaming red hair, all seemed as excited as I was to get on the move, most on horseback, to reconvene at the top for a final walk into the forest. While our trek to see the nesting butterflies would be relatively short, the monarchs’ journey had its beginning almost a year earlier. The monarch butterfly migration is a remarkable feat. The origin of the journey for the monarchs we were visiting was El Rosario Reserve itself; their destination was the northeastern U.S. and Canada. As convoluted as that may sound, in order to understand the challenges of the great distances they must fly, it is best to consider that monarchs travel in stages. Preliminarily, there are five phases in the life of a monarch, beginning with eggs laid on milkweed leaves by the adult female. From these eggs, larvae develop which grow into caterpillars. Each caterpillar creates a pupa, or chrysalis, in which a metamorphosis occurs, resulting in a butterfly. This miraculous process is normally completed within two weeks. Monarchs usually breed four or sometimes five distinct generations within a year, but it is only the final generation that will undertake the migration. Our mariposas will travel, from beginning to end, a route of several thousand miles. Their journey begins in the oyamel firs in Mexico where they have essentially experienced a reproductive “diapause” – a state of quiescence – during winter, after arriving in October or November from the northeastern U.S. and Canada. They will not begin to leave Michoacán until mid-March when
their reproductive organs begin to function again, timed with the re-growth of milkweed. Once in flight, they will soon find a place to mate and the female will deposit her eggs on a milkweed plant she alights upon. Within a month, both parents of these eggs will die. The eggs are somewhere north of Michoacán, in the direction of Texas and Arizona. Larvae will form from these eggs, very small worm-like creatures, which will eventually grow into caterpillars. Each caterpillar will make a pupa in which a butterfly will develop. At the end of about two weeks the monarch emerges and unfolds its wings as blood pumps through them. The wings harden from chemicals in the body fluids. Then it takes flight, continuing north/northeast. This is the first generation. It will fly on for about another month before mating, laying its eggs, then dying – again, and another six weeks total time will have elapsed. The second generation will undergo the same process, flying farther toward the northeastern U.S. and Canada. Along the way, these monarchs also mate, lay eggs, live a short time, and die. The first and second generations have furthered their lineage in the species by continuing to fly to the appointed destination. The third generation will make its way even farther toward its goal, reaching Canada and the U.S., close to its overall, complete, mid-journey destination (of this lineage in the species) before it, too, mates, lays eggs, and soon thereafter, dies. What the third generation has given birth to is the fourth (or the fourth generation birthing the fifth, depending on circumstances) generation which will accomplish something that none of the previous generations has been able to do: migrate. The fourth generation, now alive in northeastern U.S. and Canada, lives for about five months, two of which will involve an over 2,500 mile flight back to the parent’s parent’s parent’s wintering grounds in Mexico, a destination they have never been to. Somehow, they “return” to Mexico, in October or November, and remain until March when they depart their nests, fly a bit farther north, mate, lay their eggs – thereby creating the next first generation – and then die. The monarchs have done this for probably thousands of years, perhaps longer, even though not all that begin the migration survive to help create the full-bodied, high-hanging “hives” seen in the Michoacán forest. But most eventually fly toward the southwest, and although they periodically stop during flight, they are not lazy. One monarch was tagged, followed, and recorded as completing over 265 miles in one day. How the monarchs complete their journey is speculation. They appear to be “genetically programmed” to follow a particular course. They may use the sun’s rays or possibly the earth’s mag39
netic fields to guide them. And when they veer off course, they seem to self-correct their flight pattern. There are also physiological reasons for this specific group of creatures to endure as they do. When caterpillars are exposed to shorter days and cooler temperatures in fall, physical changes to this group result in adults that live longer. This longevity can be attributed to several factors, including that they: are in reproductive diapause; have extra body “fat” to make it through winter; have a desire to migrate; and exhibit aggregation behavior. Usually, monarchs arrive in the oyamel forests of Michoacán to coincide with the November first and second Day of the Dead celebrations that honor spirits of those who have died. Ancient Aztecs believed monarchs were the “souls of the dead,” returning year after year for the festivities. So the migration not only brings economic benefits to towns with butterfly reserves, it strengthens and perpetuates an important Mexican tradition. Unfortunately, a completed migration of monarchs is no sure thing, threatened as it is by various obstacles. If the weather is too hot or too cold, butterflies don’t fly. Logging the forests where they aggregate to endure the cold season is also a major issue. Interestingly, much of the land of the Reserves where the monarchs winter belongs to the people, not to the government. The land is divided among rural farmers, and life for these people is not easy. But the Mexican government has made efforts to be more committed to the preservation of the sanctuaries, and the people themselves are very involved. They work in small huts at El Rosario Biosphere where they sell handmade crafts: woven baskets, 40
butterfly magnets, earrings, key chains, shirts, all sales helping to support the local economy and provide an alternative to logging. In addition to the harmful effects of temperature and logging, altered environments endanger the monarchs. Changing patterns in U.S. farmers’ use of herbicides are detrimental to the feeding of caterpillars. Milkweed plants, the only place where monarchs lay their eggs and a primary food source, are being destroyed. Also, aberrations in local conditions like droughts of the last few years and extreme flooding in Angangueo and surrounding areas several years ago adversely affect the migration. Mexican government statistics measuring monarch density that were released in March 2013 indicate that the migration reached its lowest level for the last two decades with a 59% decline. Soon after the flooding of 2010 novelist Barbara Kingsolver – she had been a keynote speaker at the nearby Writer’s Conference in San Miguel – visited the monarchs. She wrote Flight Behavior, a novel based on the premise that catastrophic conditions in the traditional wintering sites of the monarchs resulted in their arrival to the forests of Tennessee, suspending all of their orange and black glory in an alien environment whose inhabitants didn’t quite know what to do about those millions of enfolded wings. While the butterflies had been on a mission for many months, our ascent was trouble-free and consumed only about twenty minutes. After riding horses to the higher elevations of El Rosario Reserve, dismounting, and glancing about at only an occasional butterfly, periodically someone – that would be me – worried aloud: “What if we don’t see any?” But we continued walking,
searching for monarchs, though all we saw were lifeless butterflies patterning the ground. The oyamel firs were so thick only shafts of sunlight filtered through. We strained to see monarchs, sil ently meandering, our quietude anticipating their fluttering just around the next turn in the path. Then we saw one lovely specimen, poised on a flower . . . then several more . . . and then another. In the distance we saw suspended nests clumped with slowly moving wings. Up one huge tree trunk motionless butterflies were attached for yards . . . and butterflies alighting on lavender flowers, butterflies moving as if in a rolling undulation through the forest. Our astonishment was silent witness to our journey to find monarchs. Although still cool, sun began to warm the air. In the distance, oyamels were shadowed with clumps hanging in hives, suspended from dozens of firs. Miniature and clearly visible swaths of monarchs clustered wing to wing, body to body, thousands upon thousands conjoined in masses. It was as if orange leaves had fire-sprouted from these trees (image courtesy of Barbara Kingsolver). After we had been watching for about a half hour, the monarchs began to shift ever so slowly in their nests, still chilled from night’s temperatures. It was a sight I imagined Walt Disney could have created, with an ethereal quality, and I felt as if I were moving in slow motion, floating with the butterflies. The mariposas peeled away, slowly readjusting their positions, fluttering lethargically, as if they were wing-stretching. Then they were tremulous, quaking among themselves, some lifting and hovering in the air. Sun-awoken, delicate black and orange wings began lifting through sunbeams, more and more moving toward us – gathered behind an invisible line Rodrigo had asked us to honor. They settled around us, on leaves, on the ground, dancing through the air. As they continued to congregate nearby, dozens spread out together, clinging to lower oyamel limbs, bathing in sunshine. Then they filled the air, surrounding us, flitting, pausing, momentarily hanging, sleep-walkers drugged by cold nights, delirious in the sun’s warmth. They ventured closer, some landing on our arms, our hats. And running joyfully through the monarchs was Dahlia, red-head aflame with butterflies on her arms, in her
hair, several clinging to her back, one pausing on her nose – her eyes straining to see its tiny black feet. I could have remained for hours, caught in the pleasure of warm filtering sunshine, brimm ing with amazement at these festive, dancing butterflies, always flying just beyond my fingers, playful, not allowing even a casual brush with their velvet touch, except for Dahlia, who paused far longer than I ever thought possible, the butterflies landing softly, lingering on her arms, and then floating on. Regardless of the pleasures our group experienced with the monarchs, I recalled my previous visit. Unhappily, despite these thousands of fluttering wings, I realized that this year’s population seemed only about a fourth of the numbers I had seen last year. Rodrigo told me that in the five years he has been visiting the nests, butterflies are only about 30% of what he used to see, and he believes there may be a time in the near future, if conditions do not change, when there will be no more excursions to these brilliant mountains in Mexico. Now, I find myself nostalgic, relishing the butterflies I saw and imagining the millions I did not see, for the story of their long journey to a destination they have never been to continues to fascinate me. Still, I know first-hand that the migration we witnessed is threatened, and that we human beings must acknowledge our role in what is happening to these butterflies as well as to other beings across our planet. But I will remember how I tilted my head back to view butterflies grasping green fir needles, survivors settled in Michoacán, how I delighted in those evasive winged creatures floating about me – especially the one perched on Dahlia’s nose. Leaving the butterflies behind, I realized that this congregation of miraculous mariposas was in its way celebrating, like the fireworks of San Miguel, perhaps in some small way because despite the obstacles, they had made it. This, too, was Mexican magic: sweet undulations of sunlit mosaics, black-orange wings accompanying us as we descended the trail, dust stirring in puffs along our way, as we imagined which dead souls we’d awakened.
naked summer / Katherine Minott 42
conversations with a snake in the wall of the poet’s classroom Tassajara, California Tricia Knoll I’m slithering out of the way. Name yourself. I am garter snake.
I am outside the wall, visible in air. Today I felt my heart beat in my lips. Can snakes be angels?
I am slick with motion, stopping for the sun where the bluebelly lizard regrets the loss of his tail. Up this wall, inside between the moldings.
The high flight of two white butterflies takes me over the wall.
The dead congregate to share riddles between the spider’s hideaway and the mosquito’s hum.
the way the wind blows Northern Oregon Coast Tricia Knoll “The keeper of the Tillamook Rock lighthouse, on the coast of Oregon, reports that in the winter of 1902 the water of the waves was thrown more than 200 feet above the level of the sea, descending upon the roof of his house in apparently solid masses.” —D. W. Johnson from Shore Processes and Shoreline Development We have words for flavors of rain – haze, sleet, shower, sprinkle, drizzle and deluge. In winter winds umbrellas are useless. Bring a hat in all seasons, pull it down tight. Some January waves slide perpendicular to the shore. Sand scours eyeballs. Less than ninety hour per mile winds – that’s merely a good winter blow. We measure weather by how sand blows. Summer sifts. Winter drifts. High winds in the afternoon, still at dawn or sunset. Weigh cloud heft as mist, fog or rain on Neahkahnie. If the sun sets into licks of waves rather than blanking out in cloud buffers, it means a good night. Praise visible stars and moon, night graces on a wave length. The world could blow away, drain away, or melt at the whim of an angry sea.
walking with higgs Bill Prindle I am beginning to believe the radiance that comes in moments that strike me wordless as the white pines rising behind the house may be like the terribly small thing he has sought so long. Perhaps it lives in the field inside the meadow we bush-hog every other year so that these risen things can greet one another, milkweed to aster, beak of meadowlark to snout of vole; perhaps it is a field of cloud mysteries at the end of the great curve circling under Alpine stone, hurling the terms of equations into collisions that would chivvy off only a droplet of that silence before it vanishes into the sweet dark cones of the blue spruce. Perhaps on a weekend we can walk down through the meadow into that field, and if we say little enough an exceedingly tiny awakening may blossom up unassisted in the alfalfa or in the poplar crowns or in what the river says when we listen.
author note: Peter Higgs is a Scottish physicist and a leading proponent of the existence of what’s called the Higgs Boson or “God particle.” The Higgs Boson is thought to be the elemental particle of the Higgs Field; all other particles get their mass by passing through the Higgs Field. After 2012 experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, a massive particle accelerator beneath the Swiss Alps, discovered a phenomenon that closely matched the traits of the Higgs Boson, Peter Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2013.
loon requiem Bill Prindle Water gathers lakes in low and empty places with the same kind of compassion That lowers the dying hemlock into its arms as would be granted to any beloved, The earth at the lake bottom giving over to a softness felt only in dreams, Sending up from roots sprung in darkness hails of hyacinths, lilies, grasses. We skim the surface as wind, but only the loon can bring the life-giving fishes Up from under water, only the black-headed one can sing in the places where light fails, Songs gathered over years from its own relations, lost in wintering southern oceans, Flight plumage stripped away, pale dun feathers betraying the glory of the holy name, Leaving only the long knife of the beak, the red circle of the eye For hunting in the hopeless waters of storms never known in dog day dreams. So what we speak on summer nights is only the gathered voices of every beloved Who is lost, suddenly no longer among us, no feathering frisson, no swimmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grace.
you go into the woods because you miss your body Claudia F. Savage the feel of your thighs as they work up hill the smell of your hair after a day unrestrained damp and full of pine the sound of your breath, a lone voice the way the air moves through your nostrils, the whistle after you go knowing that night will come that you wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t turn on the flashlight to better hear the male elks bellow, their song stronger than you thought could come from such small mouths their antlers, trees colliding the females, close and patient
you think you want to get to the end of the story to sleep though your ears are thunderous with the hunt but the coyotes crescendo together, their lungs as full as their bellies their song is insistent, confident you crawl out of your sleeping bag blinking back the night against the ground you press your palms, your back and feet bare tuning forks your body saved
suddenly, the coyotes warm up haunting the dark with their insistent sopranos long-muscled and chasing a rabbit along the white, white landscape of new snow they are flanking her calling to each other over here over
no here here here yes
tongues and noses pressed to the newly caught rabbitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s neck blood still warm, thick their calls move swiftly across the meadow soundcolors red and orange tinged with bright green
nantahala Claudia F. Savage Once we were both river water. The sound of our murmurings soothing to the other animals, cooling to their fevered bodies. They sipped at our banks, then stayed. We flowed up and over rocks as liquid light. Effortless, our path open to filling. When he first sprouted bone, I reasoned how small and hollow, bird-like and fit for flying.
I refused to worry.
I sucked at sun. Wild mint made love on my borders. I flowed. Grasses, dirt, even mountains could not resist me parting their center. Bottomless me. I was never sufficiently lush. I wanted more. Around each bend, my current quickened to the length of the moon. He began to linger. I remember the sound of bone as it grew roots, the low whine of burrow. My deep harmony pushing, trumpeting, pushing. And when the stars gathered seductive, as if their light offered warmth, we were only connected by dreaming. I wondered if he dreamed of being uncaged from his solid skin. He wondered if I had tired, if I wished to abandon my vigorous momentum. Perhaps this is how every bend in a too wide river is made, one stream seeking the shelter of forest, the other looking, always longing for the quickest path to sea.
lake michigan shore, wisconsin / Russell Streur 51
asking Cameron Price catch the ragged blue of the river by the tail lick its belly to find the seam unzip it and feel a pair of wet hands clutching your pores seeping a brackish memory pungent like blackberry picking and frog flesh lie naked on a flat warm stone pine needles sharp like the teeth of mice between your shoulder blades sink your mind pulpy with guilt into the woven purling of white water become the forest fungi eating the earth growing into a kingdom your body a beating red slime without a face call out the names of your enemies throw them like stones into the forest the river the bubbling froth of decay in a fawnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s corpse slick your body in silt thick and tomblike the webby sop of algae taut on aspen twigs pressing heavy the weight of water running over your chest beg the sun to beat down dry you cake you into powder the silver sheen of mica your starry skin dissolving into the riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s embrace your eyes are black river stones your body ropes of tree root the sky above a color bleed from orange to brown to blue moon cold forest water in your throat in your blood the pines are still your mind an azure quietude
forgiveness Cameron Price I’m asking rivers to divide tonight : the serpentine curves of the Mississippi, the Tigris, the Volga, to reveal their seams in the midnight hour and begin to unstitch themselves ancient undoing, the patterns long gone, lost before humans began I’m asking the sky to go dark tonight :
I need this I am unfolding, unraveling, becoming my unbecoming I am on the razor’s edge of a thrush’s song, careening towards the ground just as I reach up towards the sky
the barn swallows take the stars in their beaks and click them off with their tongues the sky empty of its silver points and the hush of wings to bring the rustle of dry summer grass into rhythm with the heartbeat of the moon owls to lend their hollow soundscapes to the land, a miracle going blank I’m asking oceans to breathe tonight : prehistoric lungs of kelp bones to heave and lost ships to shudder upon their scaffold of mystery and sorrow waves to surge, tides converge, and swordfish, mackerel, tuna, and eel, to swirl into patterns of godly primordial languages I’m asking for the broken mechanisms of my heart to snap together and discharge the black tar of all the things I could have done better I’m asking for my body to cough up the poison it’s swallowed, to spread the molecules of my skeleton to let in holy light I’m asking for a new song in my flesh, a breathing lamplight in my breast that flickers but does not cringe in the dark
cairn M. L. Lyons “Place is found by walking.” —Andy Goldsworthy My touch is timed to wind and wave. Each brick seasoned by the sun. This pyre of earth, rock and wood will not last an age. Conifer of umber. Teardrop of stone. Rain-hammered, windworn, spanned by a man’s reach. this sandstone egg glows red, dwarfing the plain. It grows. Its falling shows Nature is not small. I grip this earth only so long
song of the ice snake M. L. Lyons “Snakes are the perfect sculptural form...they draw the path they are taking.” —Andy Goldsworthy I am the path I am taking. Meaning rippling into place. Cool as your ancestral caves, the first arches you ever entered. Look how I curl across this branch. I can echo every shape, even the muscling earth slips between my vertebrae. I bend and slide, rise above your riverbed to treetops and then drape the earth’s stones in a sinuous embrace. I am the waters stilled you always wanted to taste. I smooth all paths and settle all the angled arguments of your race.
Diane P. Freedman is Professor of English and Core Faculty Member in Women’s Studies at the University of New Hampshire, the author of An Alchemy of Genres: Cross-Genre Writing by American Feminist Poet-Critics; co-editor of Teaching Prose; editor of Millay at 100: A Critical Reappraisal; and co-editor of The Teacher’s Body: Embodiment, Authority, and Identity in the Academy, Autobiographical Writings across the Disciplines: A Reader, and The Intimate Critique: Autobiographical Literary Criticism. She teaches courses in poetry, memoir, nature writing, women’s literature, and the Holocaust.
This is a book about writing as righting. At mid-life Diane Freedman turns to the books of Thoreau, not to mention his landscapes. Practicing the nature cure and the narrative cure, she writes, in poems, essays, and journals, about family, feminism, and literary history, loss, divorce, dating, accidents, animals, waterways, local landscapes, and teaching environmental literature in ruburban New Hampshire. She sojourns with books and domestic beasts, tramps brambles and trails, and basks in language, love, and lake-front sun.
beaver creek, south dakota / Russell Streur
payette river, idaho / Russell Streur 57
the four masks of wild river Amber Ornelas
¶There runs a wild river. She lay nestled down a rocky incline surrounded on all sides by a dense patch of woods and neighbors, reposed in silence. Multifarious in nature, she is prone to random fits of fury and moody silences like that of a sulking teenager. She is anything but. To those who know her, both creature and man she is queen, bringing life to all she touches. Her age is a mystery but from the evidence of eroded rocks and the strange and beautiful twisting of fallen branches and stones caught in her underwater quarry, she is ancient. At her birth centuries ago, she was given four masks. One cannot tell Wild River’s story without speaking of her masks. They are her lifeblood; a part of her as intricate and delicate as the human mind. In spring she is mother, giving birth and nurturing all who draw near. Turtles egress after months of hiding from the cold to sunbathe on her finely shaped rocks while her belly swells with teems of newborn fish. The tiny volutes of her waves appear to catch more sunlight during this time inviting birds to bathe, drink, and feed. Thick green moss spreads over her boulders and in the damp places providing great traction for the barefoot fishermen crowding her shore. Young lovers seek refuge in the shade of nearby trees she wrought from years of pouring water into their roots. Spring is the time the relations between tree, bird, rock, and man are made clear and point to the source that is Wild River. But spring is the shortest of all seasons and the Wild River must shed this mask for yet another. In summer she is seductress. As the demands of the sun grow stronger she is sucked dry to the point of starvation and rocks like bones protrude leaving her naked and self-conscious. To make up for this, she demands the attention and affection from all who see her. She lures both beast and man with the sultry twists and turns of her waves and the alluring call of splashes against hot rocks. It is during the summer that people are drawn to her waters to escape the heat of the day. Picnic blankets, rubber sandals, and a smattering of animal tracks litter her shore in excess. The smell of grilled hamburgers, barbeque sauce, and bug spray lingers in the air while the shrill laughter of children jumping into her cool waters for the first time tantalizes our other senses. This lasts for a while until the summer rains arrive to feed Wild River. She turns monstrous. The harder and longer the rain pours the higher Wild River rises, and as she rises, she unearths pockets of red dirt turning her a terrifying maroon. Thunderous 58
like the tread of a thousand horses, she rips through her 76 mile waterway at incredible speeds destroying and sucking down whatever gets in her way. She stays like this for days until the sun dries her back up forcing her to make cat calls to man and creature once more. But soon the heat dissipates leaving a silent chill. As with her spring mask, Wild River sheds summer and turns towards fall. In fall she is somnolent. There’s not much to do in fall for Wild River. By this time nature is too busy making preparations for winter to pay her much mind. It is a strange time, almost dreamlike as the leaves trade their green coats for pied ones. Orange, purple, yellow, and red canvas the trees in breath-taking artistry and Wild River slows down to take in the sights. Her flow is steady and her tide unchanging for the sun has lost its authority for a while. Slowly, Wild River is lulled to sleep. Then it happens. Just as the first plume of smoke rises carrying with it the smell of burnt leaves and the houses along her shore fill with families and food, she falls asleep. There’s not much for Wild River to do in fall, so as she closes her eyes to the world the mask of fall slips quietly into her waters. She opens her eyes to winter and she is widow. The sky is now a spectrum of grays and the sun is a myth – a story told around campfires for naïve children. All the leaves have fallen to reveal emaciated branches crawling towards the sky to beckon the sun to shine down on them once more. All signs of life have ceased. No rodents scurry across crispy leaves, no birds sing overhead and no humans’ splash in her waters or dare look upon her for fear of cold. At least if she could freeze she wouldn’t have to see the same desolation repeated for miles and miles but she moves too fast for the cold to catch her. She has awoken to a dead world and mourns her loss in silence. Winter is not the best time to meet Wild River. But something happens. As she travels the lonely miles back and forth in mourning, she feels a warmth and looks up to see the sun break free from the clouds. As she heats up, the fish, turtles, and other river creatures peek their curious heads from their hiding space and as they emerge, the sharp eye of a hawk catches the glistening of a fish scale and dives in for the kill, which creates a tiny wave that splashes onto the shore watering a forgotten seed, which sprouts into a flower that attracts the attention of the bumblebee who steals the pollen and spreads it, creating more flowers, which lure the gardener from his cabin to realize that spring has come. Mother has returned.
of bayous and pine sand Mark B. Hamilton i. How like a river can a river be When a river even changes in thought? Listen to it whisperin’, whisperin’ Listen to it whisperin’ wide. Listen to the river rattlin’ When the towboats go rattlin’ by. This river from my top most window Wakens to the changin’ season, too. The winter-wild river white and icy Beneath the stone slow blue. How like a river can a river be When the river even changes me? ii. I pass the first swamp, past the coal, utilities, and aggregate companies, and a terminal jutting out solely for molasses. “Hey, Jakes! Yah. How ya’ doin?! Good, good. Yah, this is Annie up at Neville Island. Yah. Say, hey Jakes, listen. Could you send a 3 x 5 tow of molasses? Yah. The folks here in Pittsburgh want to make some gingerbread. Yah, that’s right. Throwing a big shindig. In about a week? OK. Wonderful. No. No, we’ll get that from the Great Lakes. Comes down the Allegheny. They’re already stampedin’ the cows. Right. OK. You too, Jakes!” iii. Southern heat greets us in Owensboro in the guise of a wooden dock dried to a pulp, so evaporated that even the red paint stands up on end, all the nails drawn out by the claw hammer of the sun. Only an artist’s rendering holds it in place. Tetanus shots are given free with dockage. It also has no shower and no restroom, not because of the heat, or perhaps because of the heat. I’m glad to be here anyhow, safe and secure, tied up to a marina where I can sleep tonight as catfish fishermen fish, drifting on multicolored city lights.
iv. All night, towboats keep the dock awash with wakes. Sleepy eyed, I clear the marina on placid water sparking combustible bronze. Slowly, I adapt as change works through my anxieties, layers my personality, laminates my body into a truss – new knowledge that creeps over a bridge with its tonnage, the heat absorbing into my skin and sinking down through my melted bones. v. We skirt the left bank of a pebble-studded earth listening for a rhythm of river, noting the music between slow leaves. There is hardly any current. Along a string of moored barges, two and three deep, I get caught midway, close in by a fast moving tow. At first I’m able to surf the wake, but then it angles me straight toward the barges. A gap in the outer line, like a missing tooth, luckily allows me in. The wake rebounds ahead, reflects back after having sloshed into other moored barges. A wave builds up into a jolt. I drag oar blades to slow the ride. We surge into the gap, Pelican cornered, surfing the wake. I pull hard to starboard, pirouette to bounce back out again, stopping just short of old rusty barge #376, after an expert cue shot by the passing towboat captain. “He sure was in a hurry. Probably delivering that molasses.” I boll weevil out ‘a there, away from the corner of rusty dents. vi. I take a salt pill, and drink some water, the current weakening into summer. I’ve lost lots of weight, and it’s difficult to row for an entire day. By 9 a.m., we are into the heat of afternoon. I try to stay honest with each day’s run. As a ritual, the repetition of effort keeps me focused on the going: to stay with the river, to enter into the rhythms and struggle with whatever the water has in mind. Occasionally, I’m rewarded with what I call, “An emergence.” From the depths, a thought or experience is released, seeking its image at the surface, rising from its chamber into sunlight, myself growing brighter, a serenity lingering into a breezy kind of joy. Mysteriously, the discipline of rowing prepares me, and my doing becomes a kind of answer, as I row and row.
vii. I land at French Island Marina for lunch under a pleasant tree, but Pelican nips at her tether, leaping back along the dock like a squirrel. From a distance the marina seemed shaded, framed in memory as it hung on a wall of sky, but I skip out of mind, not accustomed to the heat. I flit out of time. Significant miles and people, names, worries and weather drift indefinitely. Outlines start to merge and dissolve. Towns, even Locks and Dams drift away as soon as I pass â&#x20AC;&#x201C; those finer threads of memory stretching into a vague horizon, weaving some frayed tapestry. So each morning I schedule the dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s run, celebrate thresholds with float breaks and snacks, selecting the nicest anchorage my critical mind can predict. Engaged with this southern river, I try not to battle it, but to forge a gratitude for its reality as harsh and as persistent in spite of my protective imaginings. viii. There are no sights or sounds of birds any more in Audubon country, just an immense concrete wall of Alcoa and Southern Gas & Electric rising into the near cathedral a quarter mile long under this continuous heft of heat.
brins mesa after the fire Jessica Martini It was the summer before I would leave home when the mountain was on fire, they didn’t know for sure whether the blaze would leap south or west or what – I watched it glow on the ridge and breathed in the smoke I never imagined Could it consume - everything? A vision of incineration, t-shirt and gem shops, vacation mansions, our little house Judgment day tapped at the door of a world bigger than my mind It made news, as fires do, and scared the people out of their canyon homes but like a prophet’s daydream, it dematerialized – shied away from the town – settled into ash and I forgot. Seven years passed and like a prophet pursued by the darkness fate scared me home I drove out alone to trail 119, Brins Mesa, forgetting the almost end of it all until I rise to the black burnt skeleton forest, reminders, not of Armageddon, but of a fire that burned and had turned the earth in its seasons and phases The ecosystem persists as if nothing had happened, or better, as if it knew even when burning that all would be well. Every charred stump is a gravestone as neutral as life and dirt God said, let there be black charred gravestones to remind us, that the fire burned in its given time and years went on A whole wilderness cemetery of a memory, oh yes – the Brins Fire 2006 and here is heaven Tiptoeing rain gladdens the death-life cohabitat It still rains where it blazed the drops wink I decide I will climb to the top of the mountain above the mesa through the char and everything ongoing My cells are inflamed, carriers of my own ignited memories, graves as God says, good and black as black near rupturing with a message: this is where life begins The afterlife is already now, current in the very location where it began to end and here is a higher mountain than I ever knew I would climb, and a resurrection Brins Mesa
whispers from the prairie Kathryn Haydon Night sky melts into vibrant pink and orange ocean. Wild colt is a motionless silhouette against sunrise, silently drinking crisp morning air. Grasses, spread around him to the edges of infinity, balance glass dewdrops that tickle his hooves with wetness. Wildflowers rustle and catch his eye, and meadowlarks gently whistle morning melodies. He takes off like a shot, galloping concentric circles into the wind that runs fingers through his mane. He feels his body roll like the sea through space and time, unconfined. On the prairie, where each blade of grass, creeping centipede, and humming insect dances its purpose, thousands of strengths link arms to weave an ecological tapestry as strong as diamonds. It withstands pummeling storms and crashing twisters. Without coercion, the prairie self-renews with vigor after a scorching blaze. Creativity, the essence of the human spirit, is a wild colt cantering unfettered over the vast expanse of possibility, stopping at will to chew on lush, green ideas. When fit with a halter, bits, bridle, saddle, the animalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s freedom is at stake. Tighten the reigns and he rears up, crying out with wild eyes. The whip will try to make this green horse mind, dampening his longing for wide open plains where he is free to roam. With sustained resistance, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be released or caged, depending on the softness of the masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart.
gray morning on the pennsylvania turnpike Kathryn Haydon Trees have shed their party clothes. Flowing gracious gowns that sparkled in auburn golden light lie crumpled on the forest floor. No shame, they stand erect – uncloaked by fog or foliage – sleek naked bodies proudly saluting ephemeral gray sky. Nature’s figure drawing models, each curving branch an outline of uninterrupted creation. Up close, strong and separate, they link arms on the horizon, together lending softness to the hillside.
winter koan Suzanne Rogier Marshall The only sound in the winter wood â&#x20AC;&#x201C; beech leaves shivering in the wind. Brittle leaves the color of shoji dipped in tea cling like paper prayers tied to branches outside a Shinto shrine. Leaf rattles against leaf with a staccato tap taptap. What is it that moves? Is it the leaves, is it the wind, the unseen current between the leaves, or is it only the winter mind of the seer? Perhaps it is the spirits of deer brushing past no longer in need of winter browse. Tap taptap.
on the edge of the androscoggin Suzanne Rogier Marshall monarchs tilt on goldenrod and virginâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bower find fragile balance on slender blades beneath the riffled surface speckled trout face upstream fins fanning hold against the current a great blue heron startles long legs push off heavy body rising above the twisted sedge its mirror image wavers into water color shapes I grow old with the sun cast my light with a lower slant feet pressing into cobble and sand I rise with slow wing-beats from the riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s edge touch earth touch heaven find equinox swamp candles light my way home.
weather report Suzanne Rogier Marshall She hurtles through darkness down I-93, glances at the clock, flips on the radio. Possible early morning sleet. Elsewhere wildfires blaze in southern California. Tornadoes in Ohio. And it’s hailing diamonds on Jupiter. Somewhere far beyond her blue Subaru, somewhere in the dark recess of our solar system, a million molecules of carbon oscillate to a frantic beat, frenzied by solar wind, collide, and struck by lightning, plummet through rings of Jupiter, compress in gravity’s grasp, and burn to soot, soot to graphite, graphite to diamond, thousands, thousands of diamonds, a hailstorm of diamonds, spinning, spinning to the surface, dazzling in the glint of a distant sun. Far beyond I-93, in the dark recess of our solar system, it’s hailing diamonds. And at the start of the morning rush, as she nears her work, the sleet begins. Her headlights spark icy particles in the air and scatter diamonds of light everywhere.
mount hoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hidden garden Andy Thorstenson on the high eastern slope of a dormant volcano just below the final lingering snowfields of august the sun coaxes forth frigid droplets to form tiny capillaries that grow into trickling rivulets that become freshets cascading down to an open meadow graced by exuberant splashes of color a fantastic fragrance fills the late afternoon oh, its lupine in profusion, lupine in purple and white and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paintbrush so blaze red that hummingbirds stand still in midair to admire them pink heather grows bunched with sunyellow buttercups at streamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s edge, mosses in yellow-green offset the deep grey of wet stone an inexplicable precision guides this dispersal and germination of seeds into an artistically perfect summer tapestry that momentarily replaces the vestment of snow and rock as the sun passes behind mount hood casting its immense conical shadow
recompose Andy Thorstenson the rotting log has assumed the contours of the forest floor curving and moss-soft. where once a trunk, rigid and durable, raised this eminent tree skyward now its individual fibres discolor, decay and detach. its surface glows green with mosses and long curving cracks seem to braid the greying wood into rope-like strands. in parts the wood has further faded into a series of of reddish blocks regularly and mathematically fractured like bricks arranged in a wall. each polyhedron a hard, firm sponge that offers up its liquid when squeezed. other plants and even small trees have taken up residence on its surface, their roots extending into its mortared matrix. intricate and delicate spider webs occupy the interstitial spaces of its fissures, while the remnants of its root system stretch upward, disinterred, as if tapping the unseen force of the atmosphere to guide the rotting log back into its earth.
Photo ÂŠ Scott Akerman
contributor biographies Amanda Biltucci earned her M.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing from The College at Brockport, State University of New York. Originally from a small rural town in central New York State, much of her writing is inspired by the Mohawk Valley and Adirondack Mountains. Her poetry recently appeared in Blueline. Taylor Brorby is an essayist living in Ames, Iowa. His work focuses on fracking and the Bakken oil boom. His forthcoming chapbook, Ruin: Elegies from the Bakken, is through Red Bird Chapbooks and he is editing the first anthology of creative writing on fracking, Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories about Fracking in America, through Ice Cube Press. Gonzalinho da Costa is the pen name of Joseph I. B. Gonzales, Ph.D. He teaches Methods of Research in Management, and Managerial Statistics at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Makati City, Philippines. He is a management research and communication consultant, and Managing Director of Technikos Consulting, Inc. A lover of world literature, he has completed three humanities degrees and writes poetry as a hobby. Matthew Dickerson (www.matthewdickerson.net) is a Professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, and from 2002 to 2014 was the Director of the New England Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf. He is the author of numerous books including Downstream: Reflections on Brook Trout, Fly Fishing, and the Waters of Appalachia (Cascade, 2014) – a work of narrative non-fiction on nature, ecology, and the brook trout of Appalachia, coauthored with David O’Hara. His most recent works of fiction include a medieval historical novel titled The Rood and the Torc: the Song of Kristinge, Son of Finn (Wings Press, 2014), and a fantasy novel The Gifted: Book 1 of the Daegmon War (AMG, 2015). He has also written extensively about environmental aspects of the mythopoetic writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. When not teaching and writing, he gardens, grows berries, raises honey bees, and taps some maple trees on a 62-acre wooded hillside in Vermont’s Champlain Valley, and likes to get out on local rivers and lakes in his canoe or waders. More of his writing about rivers can be found at www.troutdownstream.net. Mark B. Hamilton’s work increasingly centers upon the environment, especially along the Lewis and Clark Expedition route, 1803-1806. Previous publications include: Earth Songs, a national award winning chapbook (Panhandler Press, University of West Florida) and Confronting the Basilisk, a volume of lyric poetry (Ball State University Press). Additionally, he has been the editor-in-chief of two environmental magazines: Words on Wilderness and Groundwork: A Natural Incentive. Recent poems have appeared in Plainsongs, Ship of Fools, and Poetry Salzburg Review. Christopher Hansen is a botanist associated with the Florida Park Service. He is currently translating every surviving Song-dynasty poem concerning fungi. He was editor of Corn Creek Review, and has most recently appeared in Turtle Island. Chad Hanson serves as Chairman of the Department of Sociology & Social Work at Casper College. He is the author of Swimming with Trout, Trout Streams of the Heart, and Patches of Light: Prose Poems. His recent awards include the Meadowhawk Prize and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council. For more information, visit: www.chadhanson.org. Kathryn Haydon is a writer, editor, consultant, and innovative educator who fuses the art and science of creativity into her work. She founded Ignite Creative Learning Studio, a laboratory dedicated to designing and delivering innovative, transformational learning experiences for children through adults, and Sparkitivity, a consultancy that specializes in integrating creative learning into the classroom and supporting the educational needs of “square peg” children and their families. When she was introduced to free verse poetry in elementary school her life was forever changed, and she has continued to write ever since. Kathryn graduated from Northwestern University and is pursuing a master’s of science in creative studies through the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY-Buffalo. 71
Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet. Much of her work is eco-poetry. She tends a native plant garden with platinum certification from the Audubon Society and the Columbia River Land Trust. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener who has walked many hundreds of miles on the northern Oregon coast. M.L. Lyons was awarded a Klepser Fellowship in Creative Writing from the University of Washington and has interned with Copper Canyon Press. Currently she is co-editing with Carolyne Wright, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workplace (Lost Horse Press, Spring 2015). She also collaborated with Miye Bishop of the Bellingham Dance Repertory on a poem-based dance, “Red Temple Heart,” that was performed at the Phrasings in Word + Dance Festival. Most recently, she read at the Writers International Network Festival in British Columbia. Her poetry and fiction has been published in Raven Chronicles, Crab Creek Review, Elohi Gadugi, Terrain: A Journal of Built + Natural Environments and Pontoon. Suzanne Rogier Marshall taught English and language arts for nearly forty years. She has retired now with her husband to the mountains of New Hampshire, where she draws inspiration for her writing. In addition to poetry, Suzanne has published professional articles and a book on teaching writing (A Falling Leaf and Other Poetry Activities). Her poems have appeared recently in Slant, Freshwater, Off the Coast, The Sow’s Ear, Contemporary Haibun, and The Aurorean. Jessica Martini is a Southwestern native currently living, teaching, and writing in Flagstaff, AZ. Originally from Sedona, AZ, her writing explores the power of place, spirit, and personal evolution. Katherine Minott, M.A. is an artist whose photographic work reflects the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi – the celebration of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Her work has appeared in The Sun, Camas: Nature of the West, New Mexico Magazine, New England Review, cream city review, and Visual Language Magazine. Please visit her website at katherineminott.com. Gwendolyn Morgan learned the names of birds and wildflowers and inherited paint brushes and boxes from her grandmothers. With a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, and a M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary, she has been a recipient of writing residencies at Artsmith, Caldera and Soapstone. She recently attended “Into the Depths of Winter,” Maxwelton Valley Writing Retreat. Her work has been published in: Calyx, Kalliope, Kinesis, Manzanita Quarterly, Tributaries: a Journal of Nature Writing, Written River as well as other anthologies and literary journals. Crow Feathers, Red Ochre, Green Tea, her first book of poems was a Winner of the 2013 Wild Earth Poetry Prize, published by Hiraeth Press. She serves as the manager of interfaith Spiritual Care at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. Gwendolyn and Judy A. Rose, her partner, share their home with Abbey Skye, a rescued Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
Amber Ornelas grew up beneath the dripping Spanish moss and iridescent sunsets of Savannah, Georgia. It was there her love for storytelling was born from years of listening to her father conjure up fantastical tales late into the night. Enthralled by folklore, morality and nature, these themes are often seen in her work. In 2007, she was a top finalist in the nationwide Hear Me Aids Awareness competition hosted by Spike Lee and Morgan Freeman and has pursued a career in writing ever since. Coupled with her love for writing is a passion for travel. She has traveled The States extensively as well as abroad. She believes travel is a powerful tool for inspiration and encourages every human, writer or not, to travel to the ends of the Earth; to get lost at least once. The journey back is the greatest muse. In May 2014 Amber received her B.F.A. in Writing at The Savannah College of Art and Design and recently returned from three months teaching English in Nagoya, Japan. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia but will soon return to Savannah where it all began. Cameron Price is a poet living in Ann Arbor, MI. His work has appeared in Humble Pie, Six Fold, and is forthcoming in Mount Island Magazine. His experimental video poetry has been featured in Small Po[r]tions, and was recently screened at the 6th Video Festival in Cairo, Egypt. He is the visual art / design editor for Duende (www.duendeliterary.org), an online literary journal dedicated to publishing underrepresented voices in the literary ecosystem. He will be a graduate of Goddard College’s BFA Writing program in Spring 2015. Bill Prindle is a Charlottesville, Virginia poet who writes about the soul’s journey through the created world. He was first published in the Pennsylvania Review as a graduate student, and has since contributed to Tupelo Press’ 30/30 project, a month-long poema-day sprint. He has studied with Stephen Berg, C.K. Williams, Robert Bly, David Whyte, Sharon Olds, and Gregory Orr. His day job is as an environmental consultant; he and his wife divide their time between Charlottesville, their retreat in the hills of Nelson County, VA, and wherever else the path leads. Susan Edwards Richmond’s poetry collections include Increase, Birding in Winter, Purgatory Chasm, and Boto. She is on the board of the Robert Creeley Foundation and organizes poetry events for Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio in Harvard, MA. Hannah Rodabaugh received her MA from Miami University and her MFA from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School. Her work was included in Flim Forum Press’ anthology: A Sing Economy. Her work has been published in Defenestration, Used Furniture Review, Palimpsest, Similar:Peaks::, Horse Less Press Review, Smoking Glue Gun, Drupe Fruits, and Nerve Lantern. Her chapbook, With Words: Verse in Concordance, is forthcoming from dancing girl press. She also reviews books at [PANK] Magazine. Ron Roth’s fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines throughout the United States including the Bellingham
Review, South Dakota Review, The Lyric, Great River Review, The Panhandler, and The River Poets Journal. A collection of his short stories, The Way They Thought That Love Should Be, was published recently, including his story, The Glittering Kingdom, nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He edited of the magazine The Four Guys Review and wrote and narrated a popular statewide weekly radio program on the arts for Nebraska Public Radio. Claudia F. Savage has been a chef for people recovering from illness, a book editor, and a teacher of poetry to young women in Appalachia, farmers in Colorado, and urbanites in Portland. Her poems and interviews have recently been in CutBank, The Denver Quarterly, VoiceCatcher, Iron Horse Review, The Buddhist Poetry Review, Cordella, and Bookslut. She’s been awarded residencies at Ucross, Jentel, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and published a chapbook, The Last One Eaten: A Maligned Vegetable’s History. She is a poetry teacher with The Attic, in Portland, OR, and also a member of the poetry/music duo, THrum. An album of their work is forthcoming in spring 2015. Musings and collaborations can be found at www.whileriversleeps.com and in her column about balancing parenting and art-making, “Leave the Dishes,” at www.voicecatcher.com.
Marianne Werner’s passion is travel and she journeys to distant places, often writing about or photographing her experiences. A retired English teacher who spends part of the year in Chico, CA and part in southern Oregon, she has published poetry and articles in a variety of local and national literary magazines including Empirical Magazine, Watershed, San Miguel Literary Sala Solamente, Pilgrimage, White Pelican, and River Poets Journal. In 2013 she published Simple Images, a collection of her nature poems and photographs.
William Henry Searle, Ph.D., born 1987, in Dorset, UK, is a spiritual ecologist whose work draws on the world’s diverse spiritual traditions, philosophy, ecology, and personal lived experience in the outdoors to revive the sense of the natural world as inherently wild and sacred. He holds a doctorate in creative writing and environmental philosophy for which he was awarded a three year studentship to study at the Royal Holloway University of London. Lungs of My Earth is his first book. Russell Streur is a born-again dissident and a resident of Johns Creek, Georgia. He operates the world’s original on-line poetry bar, The Camel Saloon (thecamelsaloon.blogspot.com), and is the author of The Muse of Many Names (Poets Democracy, 2011), Table of Discontents (Ten Pages Press, 2012), and Faultlines, forthcoming in 2015 from New Plains Press. His poetry and photography have been widely published. Andy Thorstenson started writing poetry while fixing fences on his grandparents farm in South Dakota. He has received the High Plains Writers Award for Poetry and his poems have appeared in Lilipoh, South Dakota Magazine, Fire Effects, the Vermillion Literary Project and Issue Magazine. He currently lives with his wife and two children near Pucón, Chile where the berries are free for the picking. Even while hiking in the Andes, he is contemplating the verb tenses for his next book of poetry. Pepper Trail’s poetry has appeared in Comstock Review, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Borderlands, Windfall and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His environmental essays appear regularly in the “Writers on the Range” series of High Country News. Trail lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 73
Returning the human voice to the chorus of the wild. www.hiraethpress.com