Poems by Cara Chamberlain

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Winter Cottonwood

by Cara Chamberlain

From Canary Winter 2012-13

Cara lives below the sandstone rim rock that lines the Yellowstone River Valley and gives America's longest undammed body of water its widely used name. In Apsáalooke (the Crow Indian language), however, it is called Elk River.

How could they
not hurt,
those wind-chipped
branches,
twigs and leaves
ant-mined
birdfoot-
scarified,
hopeful at minus
twenty
with buds
held ready
for summer and again
an early fall
when leaves
jangle like twice-bit
coins, those
forgeries.
Essential
five main branches
climb toward
a blue so pale
it might not exist
but for some
persistence
unknown. The course
is to imagine it all
at rest, the sap reduced
to icy blood
so stopped it can
rise on frozen dust
or go down through
puzzling turns,
an axis of hurt
and hardness
to make my coming
death part of the world.




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