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You Are Here

 

The rising sun chars basalts’ rough skirt
and ravens clear their throats like an oven breeze.
The silent, snaking Deschutes.
Sagebrush. Blooming desert dill.
Bunchgrass barbs. Wrens work the maze
and tell the story of darkling beetles on their backs
mussing the zipper-marks of chukar flushed
to the scree above. You sit on this rock
on a day that will shrug like water over a parched hill.
Elk graze behind a barbed-wire stile.
Almonds linger in their velvet
under mackerel skies smoking up
a dismantled bed. Lichen steep their tang.
Arrowed herons. Ripple of otter.
River fuses with afternoon,
is lost, is found.

 

 

 

 


Download poem audio in .mp3 format.

Wasps in Fuchsias

 

It happened late in August, those weeks of little & large
failings—grass gone to thatch, webs dismantled
when the wind returned to pivot the chimes
away from each other; the children forgot to swim
and fruit plummeted to the sidewalk, an occupation
of great purple bruises…

Wasps scraped their jaws along the unpainted cedar
shake of our once-new roof: What they spit up
and lodged in the eaves’ peak—little gray notions,
nowhere to store even the thought of honey.
We left them alone. We watched one unfold

its body from its newspaper-thin shack,
legs dangling like laziness, to fetch the gold
dust of fuchsias, succumb to that once-possible
inner-lip velveteen: Wasp-gutted blooms,
like houses not fit to stand—

She invaded the once-green world and rode
over our sunburnt shoulders like a haint.
The only truth she carried: the sting was long gone
and all she could be accused of now was needing
that wine-stained slip to nestle down in,
call it a cloak, a slim memory of home.

 

 

 

Kristin Berger is the author of the poetry chapbook, For the Willing (Finishing Line Press, 2008). In 2013, she was awarded a Playa Writers Residency Fellowship. Kristin lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two children, and can be found online at Slipstream.

Deschutes River photo by Kristin Berger.

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