Poems by Dianne Oberhansly

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After Watching Farlan's Cows

by Dianne Oberhansly

From Canary Spring 2015

Dianne lives at the base of 13,000 foot Boulder Mountain, part of the Aquarius Plateau in southcentral Utah, which is mother to around 80 lakes. Her favorite, a day's hike from her house, is Crescent Lake.

A green field is the world.
A post and wire fence is the greatest
mystery. Spring calves outrun
the wind, mimic freedom, acting like
small, happy drunks. This cow here
wears the shape of a dirty white
angel across her back and flank.
And this cow has lowered herself
onto the ground, a lover
of the earth, though the earth
does not love her in return. Black
manure is scribbled over the field,
an unreadable, fragrant alphabet.
Ruminant--such a pretty word, sounds
like it should mean a cool, gold-flecked room.

I am on one side of the fence,
the cows on the other. Metaphysics.
Something bitter and essential
to convey. I feel around
for the right word, lean deeply
into invention. Last week, almost
in this very same place, a woman
I know sat in her car, pastels in hand,
trying to draw the cows onto paper.
Four stick legs, barrel belly, a head
so large and sensuous and
sad, not even Billie Holiday
could sing its song.

Love Poem Written In the Language of Western Wildflowers For Curtis

by Dianne Oberhansly

From Canary Winter 2014-15

My darling sandwort:
Our love is a two-seeded fruit
germinated on a newly-formed sandbar
in loose, warm soil.
We donít need summer, good drainage
or propagation by wind. Just
sun and water and, in the distance,
winterfat and rosy everlasting.

I admit, loving you at first
was like wolfing the soil: I
could not get enough, could not tolerate
long summers or dry heat or overgrazing,
but slowly my bitterbrush edges softened
and I was frequented by bees.
Always, I wanted to be more
than your serviceberry or your mere
wild onion,
so I stayed near, a fleshy red-orange,
edible but tart. Years
went by, sweet biscuit root,
liliaceous lover, and I waited
for you to see the delicately veined
leaves of our future.

Some say love is a false
dandelion, some that it is too easily
transplanted, but after all this time,
my sweet vetch, the sepals
have fused, our upper foliage turned
pink with age, and our rootstalk
grown thick,
so I know that love
can extend beyond the rocky ridges,
beyond the freezing zone, can be
ground into a fine, powdery grain
and eaten to survive.

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