April 2015, Issue #2
FRAGILE ONGOING

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 Editorial

I. OPENING REMARKS

Jan Clausen

“This Moment the World Continues”: Writing under the Sign of Species Suicide

Robin W. Kimmerer

When Earth Becomes an ‘It’

Kathleen Dean Moore

The Rules of Rivers

II. GRIEVING

Cynthia Travis

The Music of Grief

Megan Hollingsworth

Pacific

Ruth Wallen

Cascading Memorials: Public Places to Mourn

Joan Kresich

Letter to a Yellowstone Wolf

Susan Marsh

Elegy for the Cranes
The Hunters

Karla Linn Merrifield

William Bartram Triptych

Dana Anastasia

trinkets

Gillian Goslinga

To Witness

III. GUIDED

Deena Metzger

Dreaming Another Language: She Will Not Kill

Alexandra Merrill

Homage to Bees

Sheila Murray

Infiltration
Prey

Judy Grahn

Dragonfly Dances

Laura D. Bellmay

A Call from the Edge

Carolyn Brigit Flynn

Grandmother Squirrel

Nora Jamieson

Fleshing the Hide

Sara Wright

Cardinals at the Crossroads

Valerie Wolf

Dreaming the Future

Susan Marsh

Elegy for the Cranes

Reed grass sloughs, coverts of cottonwood and ash
Buffaloberry embroidering a ditch with threads of crimson fruit:
October spreads its wings, yearning for the sky’s embrace.
Land flattens under cumulus and light,
Blood-red line of sunrise broadens to a ruddy streak.

By noon the wind has turned, strong and from the north.
Primeval music tumbles from the vacant blue
And all at once the sky holds columns of grace,
Dozens of cranes calling as they climb
The invisible staircase of the North Dakota sky.
One, at the far tip of a long vee of birds,
Is white. Its wings ply the air like canvas sails,
Their hems dipped in the blackest ink.

Sunset lingers, empty. The prairie sky was made
For their millions, its silence meant for their cries.
Twilight’s fading violet shrouds loss,
Forgotten pathways of light.
Tomorrow the sunrise will bleed again,
The midday sky will wait
The only way it knows—
Arms open, ardent, filled with light.

Sandhill cranes in migration, Teton Range, Wyoming
Sandhill cranes in migration, Teton Range, Wyoming  

Notes:
This poem was written in response to paintings in the collection of the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. I was one of two poets who organized a public reading of ekphrasis – poems responding to art – in 2009. In looking at the many pictures displayed in the museum’s gallery, I was drawn to those that felt like eulogies for what was lost and I wrote about the deep grief they brought out in me. This poem was informed not only by a painting by John James Audubon, but by several trips I took with my husband to North Dakota. The last time we went, we saw one whooping crane among hundreds of sandhills, the only wild whooper I have ever seen.

The Hunters

Coyote pausing to sniff the air
Coyote pausing to sniff the air  

Where will the redtails hunt
A-hover on the summer wind
When all this broken country
Grows cul-de-sacs, not hay?
And where will falcons stoop
Shadows splash on rough breaks
When the rusted scythe teeth
Have cut their final row?

The ribcage of a coyote hangs
On a singing barbed-wire gate
The wind has long since taken
What the coyote might have robbed.
Out here in these clay-hard hills
Real estate is king
Scavenging from dying farms
What sweat could not persuade:
A living from the land.

The hunters are the first to hear
The coyotes and the hawks
Their shadows pass, swift and gone
Like a songbird in the falcon’s eye.

Notes:
I wrote this poem many years ago while living in Montana, where a real-estate boom was making quick work of the remaining prairie and farm fields surrounding Bozeman. Witnessing the destruction of a remnant ecosystem broke my heart.

Susan Marshr

Susan Marsh is an award-winning writer living in Jackson, Wyoming. She worked for the U.S. Forest Service for over thirty years. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Orion, North American Review, and Fourth Genre, among others, and numerous anthologies. Her books include Stories of the Wild, The Wild Wyoming Range, War Creek and A Hunger for High Country.


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