By Meredith Root-Bernstein, Aarhus University §
I carry home the shock of green wheat
it nods as I walk.
Yesterday we saw the earth-tongues
with the moss and snowdrops and last year’s old leaves.
We stopped to listen.
It nods as I walk,
all the seeds chanting and chanting.
I always thought you had bad handwriting—
your jots on the last page of the notebook you left,
but here, your scrawls in yellow
across the damp brown oak leaf
fallen in the grass,
or these lines etched into a stick
where the bark rotted off,
could say anything—
“kisses”, “see you again”,
“shampoo, dishes, scissors,”
where-to are you creeping in the moss?
The jelly fungus answers
to the pocket at the edge of the world.
You remind me of the wax model clouds
of Ugo Rondinone’s Diary,
cradled by the ghosts of his hands.
After you become big and variable in the sky,
what will you recall
of this drag and grapple?
—One infinite flickering symphony.
The seal was killed fifty years ago
by an Inuit in his kayak with his rifle.
He will have eaten the seal
and sold its pelt to make a coat.
The seal incorporates me,
I animate her.
I walk around and I feel a happiness
far away from human affairs.
But we are deep in other pleasures,
espresso in the sunshine outside a café,
the shape of a leaf in the park,
the embrace, cloak, knife of coldness,
and we glide down the morning streets
on a bicycle, diving.
The fog, the ice storm, the tide,
have their own referee,
tumult and pacing.
Tingling, hairs rise,
a bumblebee circling, looking over its shoulder at a flower,
bent grass-heads in the swaying meadow,
claw marks in the mud,
bark gnawed off,
a wren hopping and calling.
Like the whiff of piss in the metro,
like the men’s cologne on my dress,
like the scent of lawn-mowing,
and the sky is a strange yellow-green.
In the right season,
you show me things borrowed from timeless places,
the offside goals,
the private rooms of the land,
the trees singing to one another,
the little beings in their crannies.
I see them behind me.
It’s been a while
since I’ve interacted
with a caterpillar.
Caterpillars are long
gentle, tubular, bendy,
They undulate to cast forward
They are colorful,
I measured the length of the summer to come
by the wooly-bear’s brown fur-band.
traced on my blind palm,
they believe they are flying.
Under the magnolia branch I bought from the market,
a higgle-piggle of fuzzy flower cases
like the warm-up room of a quintet.
I look up from this box of minerals and my lamp and
one flower case fall.
In the morning, the branch is beached
on the floor, open petals bent, the vase tipped over.
I think it leaped for the window.
I worry I’ve been a bad conductor.
On the sidewalk: half a mouse.
The back end, with its tail.
I don’t often see the back end of a mouse,
even dashing through a garden
or into a hole in a wall.
The little feet
are kind of nice.
Where did they go before?
Where will they go now?
I was dining with strangers
when a boy stabbed me.
No one cared.
In the hot dry streets, I couldn’t find the hospital.
A tall man told me he had a private clinic,
offered to help me.
I followed him.
He opened the clinic, led me down to the storeroom,
turned on the lights and I saw many shelves
filled with implements and supplies.
He left and his wife joined me.
She opened a large door to a bunker
furnished nicely in yellow colors.
She urged me to go inside.
I knew they were kidnapping me,
making me their slave.
I looked in the bunker, at its bed, carpet, cement walls,
I was afraid and
I thought, how I will suffer most
is that here I will be deprived of all the things—
the leaves and the frogs, the sun-ray and the tiny birds—
the pinecones and the frost—
all the things in the world that talk to me about you.
I tried not to go in, I tried
to wedge my arms in the door, I tried
but there was nothing to do,
nothing to do
Meredith Root-Bernstein is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist with an interest in socio-ecological or biocultural research. She is currently a postdoc in the Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene group. She has published poetry in magazines including The New Yorker and self-published a collection, “Hock”.