I am twelve tall standing stones, I am the peaty dirt covering them almost to their tips, I am the airy something hovering in their midst
as you hike to the fell-top on Ilkley Moor. I am a dashed circle on your rambler’s map: think of the spaces between meanings
as windows to a beyond far beyond the reach of your people’s memory. Discarded food wrappers mingle with the heather like prayer notes
addressed to any of the possible powers lingering here. If you wish for me to appear to you out of these layers of forgetfulness,
I require you to offer more than the empty skins of your snacks and hollow vessels of your libations. Give me
the potato crisps and the sweets themselves; leave me not just core and crust, but the whole apple and loaf; pour your gold ale onto the soil.
And when you kneel to sip from the birch-circled spring marked by a fallen-down mound of small stones, at whose mouth tiny ferns uncurl their ivory fronds
like pale intuitions of an elsewhere, try to guess that it’s I whispering myself out of the fellside, speaking of origins beyond the range of your seeing,
I carrying your history downdale, downriver, while your memory carries less than the weight of paper, strewn.
Prayer of the Head of Christ in Granite from Cathedral in Chartres, France at Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona
My Father, whose art is on display all through this Oak Creek Valley as red-rock buttes of Coconino sandstone, into which this chapel
is chiseled, how did I come to this place? I sense Your Spirit spinning in every crumb of Sedona dust and in every limestone layer
dyed blood-red by volcanic iron oxides— but I remember little of the World-War violence that severed my granite head from my granite body
and, via L.A. art dealer, delivered it, suffering, here. I hear the nuns and docents point tourists toward the rain-carved Madonna and Child
You shaped from the viscera of the mountain above this chapel. They exclaim the likeness is unmistakable. But I cannot look upward
to see those Permian other selves, my neck unhinged and my Precambrian countenance downcast as it is, in my decapitated extremis.
Does Your will erode here though it be done in Heaven? This day, unblast me; lead me back to the Cathédrale and restore to me whatever is left
of my body. From there I will journey to my original kingdom in the quarry at Berchères-l’Evêque, to deliver myself to the womb of the earth.
Nocturne with Construction Site and Swainson’s Thrushes
Samish Hill, Bellingham, Washington
Tonight, as the gibbous moon waxes over a newly poured foundation in this tract of twelve soon-to-be luxury view homes, where last year and in years past, stands of woods
housed birds’ nests, huckleberries, and black-tailed deer, the air recovers from the clatter of the concrete trucks just now jolting away—
then, the surprise song of two Swainson’s thrushes: summerers, Salish salmonberry-birds, singing of their annual arrival home
in the few remaining cedars and firs, songs of nine to twelve syllables spiraling upwards, some with an extra trill even higher-pitched, curlicued, fluting, feather-tipped.
Jennifer Bullis is author of Impossible Lessons (MoonPath, 2013). Recent poems are appearing in Water~Stone Review, Cherry Tree, Cave Wall, and Under a Warm Green Linden. She is librettist for a cantata in the voices of the Sirens commissioned by Seattle Baroque Orchestra, and her manuscript of resistance poems, The Tongue of Narcissus, was a finalist for the Brittingham & Pollak Prizes.