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Julia Shipley

   

Listen to Julia Shipley read "o"
 

o
  

I drew a finger through the dust,
feeding it white beans . . . a dotted line

and scooped a shallow dish, sprinkling
gherkin seeds—like flinging coins
to the hopper of the unmanned toll booth,                                    

will anything take?

The snapping turtle beside the road
swats a patch of dirt;

all summer here, on the mountain,
without electricity, under phases of the moon,
a famous writer fathers essays;

we’re sitting at his picnic bench
when I feel a twinge
near my right kidney—

little grain of me or star,
more silica than cell,

you sort of something,
you begin your

fall towards loam

  

   

Listen to Julia Shipley read "First do no harm"
 

First do no harm
  

The heart is a swarm of bees,
its queen smothered inside;
the cornfield is, in its other life,
an auditorium, the deer
—they all have walk-on parts.

All night in the Scotch pines at the edge,
the crows joke about men
with rifles, trucks, tractors—
the understudies; I mean, if I had to guess
they know about going off script,
about the massive unappeasable silences,

about pretending to be willing, rehearsing the end,
There were, easy, 100,000 leaves that fell,
like reminder notices, little cues. No one saw the moose
stagger through the corn, we just followed the bent stalks
into “an understanding”—we weren’t nitpicky or petty
just somehow not enlightened
enough.

Frightened enough
we are surrounded by creatures that meet
and mate and die with more finesse,
even if we don’t meet,

even if the whole valley hears us.

    

   

Julia Shipley writes and farms in northern Vermont. Her chapbook of poems, Herd, was published by Sheltering Pines Press. Last summer she was a writer in residence in a 6x6 shack built from recycled materials called, "Habitat For Artists."
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