The Thing I Most Want to Remember

Two poems from our spring collection

We are delighted to announce the publication of our seventeenth book, available now from our online shop. This latest issue is an earthbound, layered collection, rooted in the theme of restoration. Over the next few weeks we'll be sharing a selection of pieces from its pages. Today, we bring you two poems of celebration and lament by Nickole Brown and Monika Kostera, with artwork by Jordan Tierney.
Nickole is the author of Sister and Fanny Says , and most recently, two chapbooks of eco-poetry: To Those Who Were Our First Gods as well as her essay-in-poems, The Donkey Elegies,. She lives in the US where she volunteers at three different animal sanctuaries. Monika is Professor Ordinaria at the Jagiellonian University, Poland and Professor in Management and Organization at Södertörn University, Sweden. She has published over 40 books and writes poetry in Polish,English and Swedish.

Persimmons


My friend at Thanksgiving says it’s already

happened. By it, she means the apocalypse

the end come and gone but we just haven’t

felt it yet, like a body that doesn’t know it’s

dead because the bones of the ear are the last to go,

sound still tickling the brain like wind chimes forgotten

 

in a dead tree. And I don’t know what to say

but imagine saffron monks screaming

into the ears of their recently

deceased and wonder what they might say, maybe

something like, Its already happened!

or if they might also yell into dead

trees and what words I should belt out

to the beetle-killed hemlocks that barb

the mountains here, so many the canopy

creaks and sways the trail with a whole forest of little

more than widow-makers nowadays. And someone says,

 

Well, hell, pass the bourbon then, and I do, marvelling

how easy it is to pick up the bottle with my possibly

zombie arm, wondering if it’s true – that we’re living

off fumes, maybe already gone, but how would I know

because still I hear

the clink of soup spoons, the tink of the oven

working its heat around a turkey that is not

turkey at all but a miracle of manufactured protein

made to make hippies like us feel better about giving thanks

without dead flesh in our mouths but still enough to

give us that flesh feel – that pleasurable snap-back, craving as we do

the meaty fight real muscle puts up when chewed, because

 

we are animals who don’t want to be animals but still enjoy

the vestige of animal like the foetal dream of a tail

or water-breathing gills once slit into our unborn necks.

 

Its already over, she adds. The shortages havent yet come, but they

will.  And so the table grows quiet, and I hear all our little mouth

sounds, a soft-smacking not unlike the wet popping of fish

suffocating in the middle of I-40 month before last

when yet another hurricane

receded, the floodwaters leaving behind a city of underwater

life stranded miles from their home, a stench

that had to be blasted with even more water

from a fire hose. The sound grew until

 

someone asks, Is that fake bird ready yet? and I get up to

check, thinking of meat again, of starving

polar bears happy to sink their teeth into

dolphins fooled by a warm current gone

wrong; or how I read that octopus were numerous

enough to climb out of the sea and drip from trees

back when Homer was alive, but last summer in Greece, all I saw

were their severed legs drying on laundry lines.

I can hardly swallow

 

any of it, so my brain takes me

somewhere I can go – to a small thing I can

manage – a quiet panic over

persimmons, because petty as I am, I fret if

next month I won’t be able to find them

at the store. It doesn’t make sense other than to say

I never paid much attention to those little edible

carnelians, those dusty Ozark tomatoes, but now that

they might be gone, I’m suddenly homesick

for that stubborn country-girl produce, hard as they are

at first, always tongue-parchingly tannic long before

finally giving in and turning themselves into a slick kiss

of sweet hiding under that thick skin.

 

There’s little else I can do, dead as I

might be, so I vow come December to fill my cart with them

once more, no matter how much they cost. I vow to do what

humans do – to greedily stuff into my body

the thing I want most to remember – and I will eat and eat and

eat them, making myself sick, testing

with my tongue the knowledge of fruit

that takes its sweet time to ripen, sometimes taking

months after it was yanked from its branch as if

it could live forever on the memory

of what it once was.


Nickole Brown



Lamentation

King Lear is dead

but miracles are still

likely to come.

The long march has halted,

the heart has fallen out

of the mouth of the city

and lies, like a small bloody animal,

at the crack of the curb.

 

Miracles are still possible.

Rain is falling on the homeless’

tent city. Should we weep now,

or have we missed the cue

long ago?

 

The King’s crown of weeds

has been tossed in the air

like a bride’s flower wreath.

He opens his eyes,

no dreams

want to come.

 

The tide rises, the tide falls like breath.

Miracles are still likely.

 

Monika Kostera

 

IMAGE:

Jordan Tierney
Purification Rite
Photograph
Interconnection of the earthly and the cosmos. Rusty auto parts and a perfume bottle found in an urban stream seem to distill the lowly into an airy state in the heavens. In the photograph my daughter, who is young enough not to fully grasp what we have done to our  environment, uses a broken beer bottle as a chalice to perform a ritual known only to her and the stream.

Jordan Tierney wanders forgotten and abused tracts of urban wilderness. Based in Baltimore, USA she carves found wood and  assembles flotsam and jetsam into poems about their overlooked beauty. Jordan loves when her artwork provides a transformational experience suggesting the one she had out in the woods while creating it. jordantierney.com

 

Dark Mountain: Issue 17

The Spring 2020 issue brings together essays. stories, poetry and artwork creating a new culture of restoration.

 

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