Two Poems by Mary Cisper

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Epic Walked Brokenly (Approaching Piute Pass) 

Cross five quick streams: friction permits surfaces to marry, but test the rock
before committing. By now a mile is ritual, dichroic blue wing a vision animal,
feet animal animals. Kneeling stream, do boots dream in vibram of Humphries
Peak? Pilgrim idea, saunter me

                                                                across the tinseled strands: ledger this,
dry is the bargain, and listen, not so many mosquitoes. Tapestry polemic to
filibuster, I’m still a soliloquy. (Body says, minwax the sextant with the knowledge
inlay, the one that ecologies small gray voles to specimen sheets.)

                                                                                                                      And being a body,
water warbles, expect vanishing. All my verbs are granite carvers. Enough raindrops
in Barstow smell mirage. Pipe the bauble to the coast, I can’t be farmed. Exploit
the brine beneath Permian shamble, the Crystal Geyser plant in Cartago. Look:
my glaciers, wandering into poems. Who rivulet. Who deliquesce.

orange lilies above Piute Creek, why not love my pixels? Because she labors,
labors, the mutter heart. Use a pocket knife to open the moleskin. Camera
the gore-tex couple looking vagabond. And doesn’t a waterfall pageant gravity?
Ask the anchorite why she works, go ahead, ask her.

                                                                                                  In 1937 a gourd was dipped
in a high Sierra lake and transported to Badwater, Death Valley. On the side
of a bank in Lone Pine, mural it: Wedding of the Waters.   Head it all to the pass
where it’s not so history, pilgrim. Gather shy alpine sedum, armfuls of falling.
A way to break into this world.



Conness Creek, Yosemite 

Press the body
of snow into the body

of melt
till a roadbed
foams with poppies  

Brown toad

smaller than a large
toe but not pebble not

in the stream’s

houring granite

Flow a syllabary
even if the river’s

the watershed
a dark

of lapped fields

Not yet larkspur
being early but

earthshine to bells

The goldgreen

of barely
(lean into the cradle)

what jaspers the beads
spark witness

in approachers





Mary Cisper is a recent transplant from New Mexico to the Bay Area where she is pursuing an MFA in poetry at Saint Mary’s College of California. Her work has previously appeared in Field, Lana Turner, Newfound, 1110, and South Dakota Review, among other places.

Read poetry by Mary Cisper previously appearing in Issue 23 and Issue 26.

Photo of snowy tree in Yosemite National Park by Aubrey Laughlin, courtesy Shutterstock. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.