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Poetry  – 

Epistemology of the Fern

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

                                                          —Baptist Hymn

 

In the hollows, in the deep geologic ruts
of Appalachia, old
               saints—the bright sunken eyes,

hair the color of dried bones,
the high voices—
of Appalachia, old
               sing an antiphony: in this world
but not of it.

*

Here, floodwaters groan
against clapboards, the stammering roar,
                                                 that tympani
under the creaking soprano of planks. Noise
of lack, space that wants
space, crack
               in this place between two: this voice
is both other and neither.

*

And the pre-flooded field? Green. Yes, it must be green
if it must be
anything at all. And so, part of it:
                                the blue that is not
                                blue, the mirage
of color in the sky. The curvilinear layers more
than the particles, the pollen,
the ancient combusted fern. Has it always been
seen this way: the sky? If the wind did not

bruise itself
               against the firmament, would there
ever have been the green that now recedes?

*

And now of the green that is resurging: tendrils roiling

across corrugated rust. The green finger
                                                 of rebirth
knowing no floodplain.

*

And so I learn:

I am only a blastula
                                 of knowledge, a speck
dividing on the tip of a stem, a daughter
cell trapped—parents and progeny, bristling, turgid,
part of it all, threading
                                        in either direction,
exponentially, and, too: a ball
around which history gathers, a dandelion seed,
rusting wagon wheel. This life is
               larger than
anything I will ever know. And smaller.