Oct/Nov 2019 Poetry Special Feature


by Stephanie L. Harper


pressed against the indigo dusk
like a petunia's full bloom preserved
purple-black between
the pages of a heavy tome

silhouetted Mt. Saint Helena
the sleeping elephant
heaves her shoulders
with this epoch's single breath

as nightfall draws a fog-blanket
over her foothills' dry-grass pelts
crosshatched with pear orchards
& vineyards of Pinot Noir & Petit Verdot

inside     her great belly hoards
a dormant brew—
impossibly hot & deep
deep red     like blood
let from a calf's neck
in an ancient sacrificial rite—
unmoving     unspeaking

to churn     & trumpet
in protest of the invasive paper wasps
chewing into her evergreen hide

the masked shrews whiskering
the fetid cool beneath her ferned feet

or the black vulture's routine
stealth cruise above her twilit palisade
haunches to scan for signs
in the furrows of basalt & rhyolite
that death looms


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