Poems by Richard Sederstrom

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“O Crustacean”

by Richard Sederstrom

From Canary Winter 2017-18

Richard was raised and lives in the North Woods of Minnesota and the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. His residences include the Mississippi, Crow Wing, and Salt River watersheds: a very big one, a very small one, and a dead-ended one, all variably enchanting and variably endangered.

Chitinous cousin to our hemichordate memories
remind us of our intimate
cellular closeness to every other cell,

our own pasts rendered into fibrous hues of keratin,
our hostile distance carefully composed in
anodyne gesture-armored courtesy.

Scales. Horn. Pre-cancerous
connection to the first
aggressive cellular mutation.

It is time we were made aware of our state
in the great microbial condition.
It is time we meet some antecedents:

Old Dogs from ancienter pasts.
Opabinia, far-and-near sighted.
Dvinia, small, Earth-sheltered.

A new trick every epoch or so.

Tricks for the next Big Event.
Opposable thumb, binocular vision.
Then the same old Extinction again.

Life roars.
Earth yawns.

At Split Rock

for Carolyn Forché

by Richard Sederstrom

From Canary Fall 2017

You’re right about light houses, of course.
They are places of “being alone”—
under the vast refractory of prism
through prism upon prism
through year, decade, century, crush of water,
fathom upon fathom upon
the great gray ether of mud

which lies quiet,
patient while it practices to become in turn
only one among the death count of strata
that lie as layers of Earth’s calloused skin
each layer sometime exposed to the aloneness
of water working us gently warmly
away into the womb of Earth once more—

alone with the shining black orthocone
alone with mosasaur and muskelunge
with the weightless grace of a birch-bark canoe
with the Edmund Fitzgerald
with the fishing boat out there running
in a panicky straight white-knuckled
line against the waves—

with you far beyond my side
Selene’s torch searching out into the night
into the chronometer of beam timing the waves
the passage of that distant ore freighter
or the fading lights that might be anything very large
and moving very slowly
all alone, save for ourselves and all else.

Published in CLMP, "Reflections," 2013 and in the author’s book, Selenity Book Four (February 2017)


by Richard Sederstrom

From Canary Summer 2017

After all, it is the nature of loons to swim
even under boats sometimes
but not under this one before, not ours,
not until now

nor wearing these clusters of silver
pearls on her back, which shine, gleam,
pure glow! beneath the lake surface:
The silver of it!

The emerald of its dive.
And not a glisten of it for me alone.
This elemental lack is oxygen
to my moment of joy.

What did Francis declare to be perfect joy?
My joy, likewise severe and likewise difficult
and likewise nowise cursed by perfection,
follows the deepening shine of the bird.

Published in CLMP, "Reflections,"2013 and in the author’s book, Selenity Book Four (February 2017)

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