Summer 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 1 Poetry |

Triptych

I.  Sound

We returned
	as if to the surface
		of the earth we raged — 

slumped rockpiles’ threadbare tarps

	choking the pipes 

			& rusted upon arrival.

The infection they said
	was grounded — 

		our purple feet,
			torn lace.
		
I quiet to listen — 

	a jade plant’s silk thread
		looking to root,
	
	bodies of dead bees
rattling the wheat — 

because I want to write of it as nothing 
		recognizable

of which I survive.

		Its meadows — 
			sunken or dust.
			Carcasses of gutted cattle
		buzzing in the dark.


II.  Form  

	In this version, there is only a beach 
at the end.

We walk the shifting periphery of all
	the things we’d done wrong
	
	or wronged. 
Or didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t right. 

		We circle as if turning 
	the lungs inside out. 

The peeling marquee 
	of the once-marbled bathhouse

		captures the salt wind — 
could we have memorized 

		the shape of a hurricane 
	and bent that way?

		Even now
			so deep into the after
	
	we know we must always turn back
		or drown.


III.  Image
 
I muddle the word 
with the world — 

	grain
		sound 
			flight — 

how the last thoracic flare 
will get the best of us — 

	blue smoke in bloom
	
			a narrow isthmus

					ashy spring.

Or none of these things.

	To the north, the river’s 	
slender neck. 

		My eyes are weary machines.
Jennifer Elise Foerster is the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Maybe-Bird (The Song Cave, 2022), and served as the associate editor of When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry (W. W. Norton, 2020). She is the recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, she lives in San Francisco.

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