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Poetry

Jesse Holth

jesse-holth-author.jpgJesse Holth is a writer, editor, and poet based in Victoria, BC. Her work has appeared in over a dozen international publications, including Eastern Iowa Review, Canada Quarterly, Barzakh Magazine, and Mantra Review. She received Honorable Mention for the 2018 Christine Prose Poetry Award and will be featured in a forthcoming anthology edited by poet Sue Goyette. Currently at work on two full-length collections, she serves as Assistant Poetry Editor at The Tishman Review.

Warning

The gauzy morning light
streams through the trailer,
nudging us, nosing in. Soon
it will be too hot to sleep. Here,
I remember how to dread—
how to count the heat, forty
degrees and rising. The sun
has become sluggish, slow,
wheeling across the sky,
snailing its way, as a truck
run out of gas. Sputtering
to a start, we get to work
on the farm. Pulling
weeds, no one will eat
if we can’t force the ground
to yield, make an offering. Of
fifty-odd years, this is the first
sign that danger is coming: dry,
nothing will grow the way it’s
supposed to. Feeling in the gut,
nagging. My body is running
a tally, notes every dripping
bead of sweat, each unwanted
stroke of day. How you sometimes
need a window to mark the rain. I
see through, clearly, now. Danger
is already here.

The Road To Nelson

Leaving the dust-dry of island
coasts in summer, shards of green
long since dried out, we are heading
to your brother’s wedding. It’s been
so long since I felt forty degrees,
passed. We stamp our feet
down to the river, tired,
elsewhere flooding its banks.
You told me, once, growing up
you would worry—every spring,
too much water, every summer,
forests burning—too much fire,
coming to take the house, the barn,
the sparks flying, a great whoosh
of heat, burning, crackling. Yesterday
I watched footage of magma spouting
through a fracture, a big island
street, its pavement cracked,
broken. How we’ve brought ourselves
to breaking. Here, on the farm
your smallest niece is learning,
for the first time, that things die.
I know Muddy is dead, she declares,
arriving, a horse-shaped absence
lingering. Later, she will pluck
a bouquet of wildflowers, and
hand them to me—two things
held in her mind, today. That
things die, that things can be
beautiful.
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