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Bonnie Proudfoot

Bonnie Proudfoot’s debut chapbook of poems, Household Gods, was published by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in September, 2022. Her novel, Goshen Road (2020, OU Swallow Press) was Long-listed for the PEN/Hemingway, and awarded the 2022 WCONA Book of the Year. She’s published fiction,  essays, and poetry. Bonnie lives outside of Athens, Ohio.

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Manifest Destiny


First you hear chainsaws. Right off, you know
there are more than usual, not just homeowners
or a small crew cutting firewood. This begins

to sound like a logging operation, and it is,
it’s close too, two houses down the road;
echo of bulldozer blades slamming into rock,

soil piled and sandstone shoved, bit by bit
the forest floor is scraped for access roads, carted away.
You never knew a machine could spin a whole tree

while it grinds off bark and branches, or that
a person could walk a mile in the opposite direction
and still hear the shrill whine in the air. Imagine

a wooded valley, then imagine it barren. One month,
two months, freezing rain, snow flying, then one day,
the stake trucks, flatbeds, dozers and skidders,

the blue porta-potty, and the poplars, hickories, oaks,
maples, but mostly white pines are gone. On the ground,
stacked scrap, mud tracks, the creek trying to seep

its way through silt in the gully. Stacks of logs
are sold, someone’s profit is tallied, but for you,
it’s a racket of loss: how the sounds of traffic hushed

on that stretch of road, how red cardinals seemed
as they preened on the boughs. You recall
the well-used fox trail along the berm, just a muddy

rutted landing with piles of gravel and half-buried tires.
You stand there now, scanning torn trunks and stumps.
Across the valley on the hillside, your eyes find

one slender pine that missed the cull, still alive,
still green, that pine is your beating heart, or maybe
your hope, as tender and green as it can ever be.

The Body Holds its Own

     “the plan is the body” Robert Creeley

There is a way that the body cannot repair itself, once undone
taking what’s been lost or broken, making it less than one,

In the matter of blood or bone, the shatter of the body,
this body, this place of loss, only holding what is half-done

a vase, a house, so full of the stillness of things, cluttered
with feathers, dried thistles, milkweed sprays like strands unspun

this palace of peculiar balance, not insubstantial, not transmuted
found in the body, held in the body, a vessel, renewal unbegun.

So, for now, as Creeley says, “the plan is the body,”, and I’m in,
with some skepticism about what will be, and the lure of the long run,

and memories, if we can call them that, of what might have been,
but isn’t that how it always is? the could-have-been meets the short-run,

the present is gone before it couldn’t have possibly become––
what do we have to connect us, then? the kiss that was the most fun,

a line of music recalled, the way a body moved with itself, with another?
though now, would any song do? What if it’s not in the plan, the one

this body holds? You kissed me. It lasted a long time, but not long enough.
Use your teeth, leave a mark. Let this body hold on to what it’s done.


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