Barbara Edelman


Each trek has its own syntax.
My home on my back. My Quasimodo
shadow. I’m a slow beetle. Destination,
the top of a mountain, the Milky Way’s
veil and the silence. Each time I wake
in the night there’s a new sky. The Earth
spins faster up here.

Each time we rest in the desert,
I sleep; each time I sleep I dream
in stick figures. We are lower
than ocean. I slog across a ridge
to bury my dung. Night brings
an anarchist wind.  The tent is a flight
risk. Under the Milky Way’s map,
I dance on a sand hill
like a beetle on its dung ball.

Beneath the canoe, a school of dying
salmon. They rot as they swim.
Their disappearance begins on the inside.
They’ll become the river and the banks
of the river and food for the fry
of their fry. At the falls where they leap,
one Grizzly eats only
the skin. Gulls take the flesh.

Once, I lived beneath a mountain range
of roofs. Pigeons
stood watch on the shingles.

Once, I lived in a sweet stucco box
with vines at the windows, spiders
in the vines, guitar in the alley,
salt on the wind.

Otsego Street

I left the alley and its dust. I left the white cat who was already gone.  I left the talkative crows, the smell of weed.  I took the bruise of theft. I took the cat-piss smell of eucalyptus, smell of smog, smell of self, smell of flat-land dwellers on days when your sweat evaporates before you see it, when the circular valley is a furnace and you conserve your movements like money, you walk as if you had no bones, you walk as if the air is water, though the only water is in the spiked scales of cacti or escaping through the pores of your skin.

Barbara Edelman                           

Barbara Edelman’s poetry collections include Dream of the Gone-from City (2017) and All the Hanging Wrenches (forthcoming, October 2022), both from Carnegie Mellon University Press, and the chapbooks Exposure (Finishing Line, 2014) and A Girl in Water (Parallel Press, 2002). Some journals in which her work has recently appeared are Pleiades, Spillway, and Appalachian Lit.