From Coosa

Jennifer Elise Foerster

We travel his crumbling colonnades

by canoe, me and St. Marie de la Mer,

a scarlet macaw and polar bear

rescued into imaginary light.

We row to rewrite the continent’s

eroding edge of unattainable sound —

autumn’s chrysalis, the monarch’s remains,

and in the enemy’s gulf, dig for words —

hay meadow, flower-rich, oilseed rape.

This landscape’s quixotic orthography

spells Scipio’s spheres, his starbelt of milk,

moon’s eagle effigy, winged snake.

It is a question of legibility,

how we appear before we disappear —

with baskets of larkspur, lilies, violets

gathered for an infinite descent.




The turning point came early, bleary-eyed.

Turtle was already ahead of time,

collecting prickly trinkets of beauty,

the night’s beaded intertidal chitons.

With first light came first waves of departures —

they folded their fishnets, flutes and arrows,

eclipsed the sun’s primordial escape.

We knew no one was coming to help us.

I was shielding my daughter from the rain.

All our old objects chained in their places:

the cracked face of a traded timepiece —

how we appear before we disappear,

an image captured for the quickening.

I would become my own coffin, for her

a raft. This was how they found us, after.




Add a new blanket of earth to the mound.

Sunflowers blooming from a trashy wash.

Sumpweed, knotweed, pigweed, ragweed, summer’s

signature: cenotaph, empty tomb.

The evening veil, a partial reveal —

moon’s eagle effigy, winged snake,

eclipse of sun’s primordial escape.

I echo the aspen’s crack and moan

as winter curls about its throat

to find precision’s fitful guise and pine

for lines where swerve the cold, gray streams of lead.

All lines that end undead, not callous, male

or stacked, are cliffs where crashed the cyclop’s head.

Were sleep to moor like once my mastless boat

in night’s dense harbor, diamond cradled, rocked.


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