TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 13

Summer-Fall/2017

CLICK HERE to go back to TIQ13 chapter selections

 

Chapter Two:

poem by Kathleen Brewin Lewis, poem by Karla Linn Merrifield,

poem by Jenna Heller,  2 poems by Carol Hamilton,

poem by Sarah Bigham

 

Poem by Kathleen Brewin Lewis

 

 

Lowcountry River

There is no turning back, only turning.

 

Slim girl on floating dock, head bent over crab line.

Hand over hand, she tenderly pulls the line between her thumb

and forefinger, tricking the crab out of the river and into the net.

 

The girl becomes a woman who breaks

her mother’s heart. Has a daughter who breaks

her heart, has a granddaughter.

They all turn into old women.

 

The river bends out of view, sends its creeky fingers into the marsh.

 

You and me,

and all the grand, small things

that hardly mattered, and meant the world.

 

The water teems with silversides. Brown shrimp. Blue crab.

 

Kathleen Brewin Lewis is the author of two chapbooks of poetry, Fluent in Rivers and July's Thick Kingdom (FutureCycle Press 2014 & 2015). Her poetry and prose have also appeared in Southern Humanities Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Cider Press Review, and Still: The Journal. She's a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and Best of Net nominee, and received the 2017 First Place Award of Excellence from the Georgia Poetry Society. She loves travel, hiking, the National Parks, and her Lowcountry hometown of Savannah, Georgia.

 

Poem by Karla Linn Merrifield

Shift of Shape in the Real Magic Kingdom
 

to go once again

in dignity

you cannot assume

the mantle of a she-panther

sated, dozing in

sun-dappled sabal shade

 

it will be some time

before you will be able

to growl in the night

 

nor can you begin

by donning the feral boar’s

bristling hide

as he scrounges for corms

in sandy thickets

rooting in the sodden earth

of August

 

even though he calls to you

full of pride

in a familiar voice

as he scans

the salt marsh

a red-shouldered hawk

soars beyond your endurance

 

you are not ready

to fly above the curve of tides

as a diminutive palm sparrow

flitting amidst palmettos

or float as a velvet-brown bat moth

clinging to a pond apple tree

 

not yet—but one day—

it will be otherwise

one day you will become

as the periphyton

an algal form

 

 

Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had ~600 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 12 books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit:  Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye, a member of the board of directors of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), and a member of the Florida State Poetry Society, and The Author's Guild.  She is currently at work on three manuscripts and seeking a home for The Comfort of Commas, a quirky chapbook that pays tribute to punctuation. Visit her woefully outdated blog, Vagabond Poet, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.

 

Poem by Jenna Heller

 

Big Bend Country

coyotes circle and yelp
     rising to a frenzied ruckus

a church-meeting in the wild
     tongue of the desert trickster

crowing at the crowning sun
     heartbeat like a hornet’s nest

it’s below zero, much colder
     than expected; ice slicked

between tent and fly, fingers
     and breath scan the dark

the protective dome tucked
     between prickly pear and honey

mesquite, horizon stretching
     taut against the desert scrub

coyotes yapping maybe feet, maybe
     yards, maybe just beyond the Rio

Grande Village, howling in Boquillas
     Canyon, ranging over the Deadhorse

Mountains, dancing with flowering
     giant daggers, spiked lechuguilla;

jackrabbit springs from beneath
     creosote, startled by morning

dog-song, ready as the black-tailed
     rattler to slip out, land a quick

meal before hiding from noonday
     sun in lichen-encrusted limestone,

predator and prey all at once;
     day splits from night and cries

crescendo into chaos then slow
     devolution. Fearsome silence:

the birth of twilight safe in the warm
     crook of the big river before booting up

for adventure along the Lost Mine Trail
     in high hope of spotting mountain lion,

a stolen spectre among fossils
     pick-pocketed from floodplains;

hot beyond hot – roadrunner
     slaps snake against pebbled tuff

the death throes pounding;
     coyote lopes along the scenic drive

sniffs the air, spooks and fades
     like quicksilver and heat shimmers

on the Burro Mesa, the ever-watchful
     Chisos Mountains looming patient

a promised cloudburst, caught
     in the drama of Sierra Del Carmen

a window of blistering beauty;
     bandit and friend all the same

Originally from the US, Jenna Heller now lives within walking distance of a swimming beach in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her writing has been published in various journals including BOMB, Poetry NZ, Takahe, Flash Frontier, and Popshot.

Two poems by Carol Hamilton

Drought

We here know it well.

Fingerprints of our ancestors

wait in dust on a windowsill

touched by wishes

for a glimpse of blue,

a hint of the remembered sky.

We know the scent

of smoke and scorch

whipped by raging fire.

Wherever blackjack oak

and cedar gather, clumped

about work sheds and houses,

scars of devastation are left

to remind us. These sere spots

stand out in summer.

Only the contorted

and scratchy fingers

of stubby oak are left

to claw at the sky,

no leafy green to counter

the relentless sun.

Our ancestors suffered of it

more than we, but still we speak

with our throats and hearts

parched, our tongues cleaving

to the roof of our mouths.

We are the Bible Belt. We turn

and turn all of those dry tongues
to the work of petition and prayer.

 

 Drifting

 

We are so happy to be here again,

just us and a tent and our wire hangers

for marshmallows and all the birds’ songs,

the agitated touching of leaves. 

Only thin fabric treated to repel water

between us and the air and the lake

aglint between dark trunks trailing down

to narrow strips of asphalt.

Indeed, the silk-skinned water

is skimmed by swarms of bass boats

gliding around the point and into darkness.

The soft v’s  behind pickup trucks

wait to retrieve and cradle again at dawn.

 

These keep the lake full of silent,

distant lives that slide out of sight

by some law of physics I do not quite

understand. We don’t belong here,

are the watchers and listeners

in others’ habitat. We come just

once a year. But for years we fill

our time full of rituals to embed us,

to resurrect ourselves.

We add our voices, our smoke,

make as much impression here

as anywhere. We, too, slip

around some bend and out of sight.

 

Carol Hamilton has recent publications in Paper Street, Common Ground, Louisiana Review, Pontiac Review, Sanskrit. Louisiana Literature, Off the Coast and others. She has  published 17 books, most recently, SUCH DEATHS. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize.

Poem by Sarah Bigham

View from the root cellar

  

It began with the radishes,

singing their folk song of puckering

summer sunshine before the rutabagas

wanted a turn and, given their girth,

often won the operatic competition

with their rippling, deep-throated arias 

before the yams hinted

that talent was irrelevant as they and

the novelty purple potatoes would last longer

 

and grow sweeter with age.

 

 

Sarah Bigham teaches, writes, and paints in Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, their three independent cats, and an unwieldy herb garden. A Pushcart nominee, her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Bacopa,  Entropy, Fourth & Sycamore, The Quotable, Rabbit, Touch, and other great places for readers and writers. Find her at www.sgbigham.com.

CLICK HERE to go back to TIQ13 chapter selections