Letter to America by Anne Haven McDonnell

One Poem

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In the Wake
          (of the election, 2016)

This morning the moon is a ghostbone
in a pale blue sky. Our bodies huddle
for warmth in cold seeps of winter.

They say our whole time on earth
will darken and press into a thin
flaky layer of stone. Even plastic

even bombs even music and cell phones
old churches and skyscrapers and jets
all our bodies and with our bodies

our ideas about the world as ours
our ideas about whales and bees and redwoods and wolves
and the bodies of whales, bees, redwoods, and wolves.

But today, in the wake, I watch
each body pass on the street,
I linger in each stranger’s eyes, silent,

listening beneath skin. On the rim
of a canyon, coyotes let loose
an unhinged chorus, lit

on the tip of my tongue. I know
the fires have started. I know
the bodies I will protect, a queer

spring in my step, a shimmer in my
stride. My cry swells like a wave
over lies, shivers down any spine,

dissolves into language of lichen and stone.
I quiver all the way to gone—
then bring it back as heat, urgent

as the purr of nerves quickening, sure
as the lynx who stalks silence
on a ridgeline, her lush spotted coat,
her paws stitching the unbroken snow.




Anne Haven McDonnellAnne Haven McDonnell’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Georgia Review, Orion, Tar River, and elsewhere. Anne lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her partner and their sweet rescue dog. She teaches as an associate professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Read poetry by Anne Haven McDonnell previously appearing in Terrain.org: four poems, two poems (winner, Terrain.org 5th Annual Contest in Poetry), and two poems.

Header photo of early morning snow by jill111, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Anne Haven McDonnell courtesy Anne Have McDonnell.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.