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Jennifer Elise Foerster



-Cannonball River, November 2016


We commit ourselves to the count,

bees without a queen, swarming frozen ground.


Oatmeal, canned beans. Garlic salt, hominy.

White, brown, or wild rice.

                                     Rock salt. Flour.                    


The hours lift their lacy black veils—

a procession of women in mourning.


Startled, a doe slips into fog—a fugue

casts my shadow to the other side of grief,


leaves the body at the mudbank, gutted,

hoofprints trailing into winter wheat.


Lost, we talk of wilderness

and failure, time’s sentient materialism,


the clock without hands now, without its tick—

awake snow-covered in a dead meadow


to sort more piles of things—no answer.

Fresh hay for horse feed, tipi poles, propane.


Hours like dull gold blow across the prairie

where Hoktvlwv travels to the inner reaches


alone, lantern clicking in the grass.

Brightness for a moment


until time returns—

how crowded this terminal of the world.



There were still songbirds then

nesting in hackberry trees

and a butterfly named Question.


I remember ivy trembling

at the vanishing point of your throat.


Then the timelines crashed.

California split into an archipelago.

Orchards withered under blooms of ash.


Now there is no nectar. No rotten fruit.

The air is quiet.


                          Once, in Russia,

Ornithologists trapped

a population of hooded crows,

transported them 500 miles

westward. Winter came.

They never caught up with their flock.


With crusts of calcified algae

we catalogue each day lost:

hot thermals, cirrus vaults,

fistfuls of warblers hurtling into dark.


There was no sound to the forgetting.

We knew the heart would implode

before the breath and lungs collapsed.


That the world would end in snow,

an old woman walking alone,

empty birdcage strapped to her back.

-from Copper Yearning (Holy Cow! Press 2019), selected by Spring 2022 Guest Editor, CMarie Fuhrman 

Jennifer Elise Foerster is the author of three books of poetry, Leaving Tulsa, Bright Raft in the Afterweather, and The Maybe-Bird. She has been the recipient of a 2017 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, she lives in San Francisco. 


Victoria Chang


Victoria Chang

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