Image credit: William Harvey

For every tree burned in this wildfire
we used to call summer, a new spire of light.
For every ruck of Tamarack blown down
by the derecho, a meadow, sometimes
with blueberries. Also, lupine & daisy
in drift by the road. For the bright leaves
that fall, winter sunsets in thrall,
gashed garnet & amber behind bare branches.
For loss of my mother, her daughter
the woman was born. For my father,
freedom from the mute freight of his pain.
When I left my marriage, I broke
my own heart. But also broke a new plot
for love, unscored by time’s yoke
& harrow. I lost everything close, a life
lived for four decades, family & friends.
For them, forty species of bog orchid,
& a pictograph of people paddling canoes
that can be seen only if you are yourself
paddling a canoe. Also, this willow rose gall
with petals green-edged-with-pink,
as complexly cupped as an English rose.
For all my banked sorrow, this glowing
woodstove & late afternoon sun
gold-leafing old cedar walls. A ghost vigil
of poplars pale in the mist. A field
white with hail that will be blue with low fruit
in July. Promise of cobbler & pie
& a row of jars in the window to strain
winter light, stain it red. For the dying & dead.
For eternal war, the ash-dimmed skies
& the boiling seas. For extinct species.
For any wild risk taken & lost,
for having broken the beaker of trust.
For those my leaving wounded & wounds.
Ten thousand lakes sobbed by wild loons.
Ten thousand bird calls at dusk.

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Rebecca Foust’s poems won the 2023 New Ohio Review prize and were runner-up for the 2022 Missouri Review Editors Prize and are in recent issues of The Common, Iowa Review, POETRY, Ploughshares, Prairie SchoonerSouthern Review, and other journals. Foust’s fourth book, ONLY (Four Way Books 2022) earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Recognitions include Hedgebrook, MacDowell, and Sewanee fellowships and a Marin County Poet Laureateship where her program, “Poetry as Sanctuary,” featured readings by local immigrant poets.

Photo credit: William Harvey


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