Tangled against the river the red-gray thump of the feet of deer in the half-frozen mud and the sear of dry branches torn from the living, a yellow-orange strip of barkless wood on the trunk and the tender wet where the branch was torn crystallizing in the cold, and trees like a mesh of black oil.
“I suppose I realized I was working toward a book when I asked myself, How close can you get to an extinct bird? And then, I set out to try. My journey of combing through museums and specimen drawers was what ultimately spurred the longer narrative. Once I held an extinct bird skin in my hands, I knew I had to start sounding some alarms about our own environmental crises. And the best way I could do that, I figured, was through stories.”
It is March, and I cannot remember this winter’s first snow, though I am sure I entered its white hive. By now it has been replaced. Weather comes and goes; we enter and exit. Today I have been “out” of weather (indoors), “in” weather (outdoors), back “out” of weather, and so on. This movement between out and in reminds me of the shifting relations—between owner and dog, literal and figurative, holding-on and release—that unfold in Carl Phillips’s poem “White Dog.”
I live near a freeway overpass, and can hear the cars rushing under if I am quiet. They sound like wind trapped in a dream-corridor, softly insistent. The sound of the cars reminds me of taking road trips further into the Midwest: Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota. In her poem “Giant Fiberglass Cow,” Mary Quade addresses a roadside statue I might have seen while traveling.
*Ann Marie Thornburg*
A look at a still life painting and a haiku at the beginning of another year.