local_library Black River

by Allison Jenks

Published in Issue No. 10 ~ January, 1998

breathes over salt grass

and meadow plants,

a mother hiding music

from her children.


Fields of erect

and luscious stalks,

the numb bodies

of braided trees.


Grass overlaid

by mahogany apples that fell

to feed seeds to the soil and die.


Steam and ash tremble

from canyons like burning hands

and entryways to nightmares.


Trains fly up from the pits like graffiti,

crooks leaping up from the earths crust

delivering mad people to worn homes,

houses caught by the river.


There are no seasons.

Never three people

in one place.


Draughts pour in

with the stench of fruit

sap and yeast.


Tides fall from the sky —

the rivers grown children,

aching, calling for the arms

of their mother.


Black River, lush,

its hairs now gray —


the fish are its cane.

The cane is breaking.

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Allison Jenks' poems have appeared in : New Orleans Review, Art Times, Wisconsin Review, American Literary Review, and Midwest Poetry Review. She was a James A. Michener fellow, awarded by John Balaban, at the University of Miami's M.F.A. program, where she was Editor In Chief of Mangrove.