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Noon Edition

Among Deciduous Hardwoods

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"Ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and children of the state, 
I am here because i could never get the hang of Time."
- Terrance Hayes

Alex Chambers teaches audio storytelling at the IU Media School and is an organizing fellow with We Own It, where he is working to re-energize democratic participation in rural electric co-ops. His poetry book, Binding: A Preparation, was released by Pickpocket Books and Ledge Mule Press in 2019. His next book project is based on his dissertation, Climate Violence and the Poetics of Refuge.

Welcome to The Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Alex, what have you brought for us?

The Sandhill Cranes

 

fall into your ear once winter’s arrived and empty.

The two things it offers are darkness and gravity:

when you finally learn to rest, your body locates the tug

of matter, light or dark, no matter how you’ve plugged

your ears to its call.

This is January, devoid of all

but time—until the cranes’ stratospheric reverb threads through a chink

in the window, while you stand at the mess of your sink,

a plate in the air dripping with grime-flecked soap,

stopped by the hint

of an event

somewhere in the cold of hope,

and you think to yourself, skirting catastrophe,

they’ve finally left the Kankakee.

 

After the Chicken, Before the Peach

 

When the chicken died

it hardened quick,

the rigor new to me, honey.

The lick of the mortal—

it had mostly seemed

a distant trick when

grandfathers quietly ceased.

The air shrieks

at dawn’s bare light.

It’s the raccoon in the coop.

You’ve got a dead

hen on your hands,

stiffened foot, blood

on the wood and the beak,

and you have to grasp it,

‘cause there’s life

in the coop but a body’s

blocking the door

and the hens might feast,

you’ve heard, on their

feathery sister’s

soulless meat. We

were close enough I called

her grandma and we

went to see her—the body,

I mean—and bought take-out

for my wife’s mom’s dad.

In the long sudden

pause before the men

folded away the remnants

of her breath,

everyone hugged her

body goodbye but me.

Not sure why.

Maybe something

in my thought of the cold.

The hen, anyway,

happened later, her soul

departed in the teeth

of a shadow groping

over a half-hooked

wire fence. We dug

a hole, but the saplings

(peach, cherry, apple)

weren’t yet ready, so after

I lifted her by her wooden foot

and tossed her in,

we dropped a limestone

block on top to stop

the raccoons, coyotes,

or whatever interested

four-leggers might rummage

down for a taste.

After six days of flies,

before lowering

the trees, we lifted away

the grave so the roots

would reach the body,

our breaths held

against the smell.

Well. You can guess

how the dead,

whether accidental

or long-expected,

when you take them up

in your unafraid and fearful

hands, cut the sod

and place them somewhere

almost plenty deep,

feed the trees.

You can guess

which tree, my peach,

shot up stalky and green

within weeks. Whose

story am I here to tell?

Hard to say. I meant

for us to taste the garden’s

sugar, trace our tongues

down to its pit, but the fruit,

it’s years away, probably

grubby, and however we

fall, whatever we feed,

the spirit hovers home

to hold the frenzied swarm aloft.

 

Among Deciduous Hardwoods

 

In the hermeneutics

of rain

you are already

enough. Also in

the theology

of sycamores,

if that’s what

you call their

flaking toward

an impure pallor,

also there, in their

reaching up

to the low clouds

and deep,

already, you

are enough.

Big sycamore tree.

Big deciduous sycamore tree. (Bill McChesney, flickr)

"Ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and children of the state, 
I am here because i could never get the hang of Time."
- Terrance Hayes

Alex Chambers teaches audio storytelling at the IU Media School and is an organizing fellow with We Own It, where he is working to re-energize democratic participation in rural electric co-ops. His poetry book, Binding: A Preparation, was released by Pickpocket Books and Ledge Mule Press in 2019. His next book project is based on his dissertation, Climate Violence and the Poetics of Refuge.

Alex reads "The Sandhill Cranes," "After the Chicken, Before the Peach," and "Among Deciduous Hardwoods."

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