Poems by Elizabeth Kuelbs

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It Starts in Your Sky

by Elizabeth Kuelbs

From Canary Fall 2017

Elizabeth lives at the edge of a coyote-loud Los Angeles canyon in the Malibu Creek watershed.

We drop below your white veil and there you are all wide silver rivers and glacial milks and ready sea. Parched, we swallow and bump down arctic wind to debark in your mountain-crowned city where people tell us you are The Great Land but even we already know. Your wing, your fluke, your katabatic breaths blow back our hoods and eddy cool calls through hotel doors. In the gift shop the Dall sheep’s canvas eyes, brown, bottomless, tease us, the black bear’s carved salmon, the wolf’s stuffed ears. Come find us, they whisper, if you can. But Into the Wild? Still insane. We’d never throw our lives away like that. Then we drive out. On one side belugas spout white in the pewter inlet, on the other, moose lift their heads from lichen-filtered snowmelt, daring us to stop. Packaged, expected, we arrow on past stern eagles. We open our windows, dolphin our hands freshly, and then we begin to shrink. Your clouds sift. Your peaks sky. Your high blue ice cries rock flour. Your inlet becomes river becomes rushing aqua light. Our small fingers grasp the door handles. Spruce and birch green in. Finally we stop at your trailhead. We unzip our jackets and bounce out of our car into your forests, your fjords, your glaciers, your teeming rushing water, onto your rocky bank. We collapse on our backs, open-mouthed to falling mist and feathers, inhaling forget-me-nots. We swat white socks and pillow our heads with stones. Environment. What a paper word. Silver yourselves with mud, sing your cottonwoods. Weave fireweed crowns. Eat pink-fleshed fish, suckle blueberries and droplet-jeweled leaves. Come. Vanish in us, they sing. Winter waits.

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