Wednesday 21 June 2023

Four Poems by John Brantingham

 




Butterfly Summer

 

This monarch must be about the last one

to go this summer, the rest already

 

headed back south. It will take two

generations to make it back to Mexico

 

by winter, and this one will die

in a few weeks, the sturm and drang

 

of her life consisting of the journey

to the middle of the continent.

 

Mine is here, now, watching her prepare,

working her wings slowly.

 

She is preparing to climb ten thousand feet

into the sky to catch the jet stream

 

that will take her to a home she’s never seen.

I’m dreaming of that place too,

 

a field in perhaps Kansas or Colorado

where she will sleep but others will wake

 

with the urge to just keep moving.

 


Orange Summer Newt

 

This morning, I would crush

the newt on the trail

with my boot heel

 

except in August

the valley the Allegheny

runs through is a green world,

 

and everything before my eyes

has been green

and all my thoughts have been green too,

 

and this newt is orange

and nearly frozen

in the frost of the early day, 

 

so I turn my boot and move on,

leaving him

but thinking new thoughts,

 

orange thoughts

all day and

into the cool evening.

 

 

Chicken of the Forest

 

The giant orange mushrooms growing

out of rotting logs are supposed to be

edible and even delicious,

 

but I’ve never wanted to cut one up

and fry it. I’d rather leave it

here for a bear.

 

Today, I have apples,

and they’re fine on a cold morning,

standing next

 

to this one fungal flame of orange

in a green world.

It’s enough to crunch

 

through one apple and then the next

and remember those days living

in the city

 

when I would dream of being able

to walk out into the woods by myself

and to have this kind of morning

 

one that exists without worry,

conversation, or doubt.

I am here now, alone

 

except for the mushrooms and the bear

I have not seen in a week,

and I watch

 

my thoughts beyond words

form like a fungus,

growing rich and alive.


 

Small Columns of Stone

 

The trail veers off to cross this place

where the stream winds

through the stone ruins of chimneys,

 

what’s left of the cabins

where people used to rest

on their weeks off in the summer.

 

Something happened, someone decided

to change the road,

and this place only has the memory of families,

 

and I know that it is the memory of my people,

aunts and uncles who used to come up

with my grandparents.

 

All of those people are gone now,

and I did not know them

until they were old,

 

but I can hear their child voices

in this moment before autumn.

I can hear them call

 

to their parents.

I can hear their parents laughing

and calling back.





John Brantingham was Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first poet laureate. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines. He has twenty-one books of poetry, memoir, and fiction including his latest, Life: Orange to Pear (Bamboo Dart Press) and Kitkitdizzi (Bamboo Dart Press). He lives in Jamestown, New York.

 

 


No comments:

Post a Comment

One Poem by Daniel Suter

  Narnia     I'm looking for the door , m y mind longing to explore .   I'm pushing it wide open , h oping to find the beauty   o f...