Poems by Ann Struthers

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Ancient Forms

(Spirit Lake, Iowa)

by Ann Struthers

From Canary Fall 2017

Ann Struthers lives in the Indian Creek watershed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the Cedar River eventually runs into the Mississippi. The Iowa legislature is currently attempting to undo or thwart environmental rules protecting the state's water.

Cruising the lake this morning, the great blue heron
fishes, tips his beak, swallows, lifts his great wings, flaps
            off,

his pterodactyl head and neck leading him. Small waves
lick the shore, withdraw, lick again. Sugar white sand

here at the north end of the lake, twinned at the south
where one of the millipede feet of the mile-high glacier

halted after kicking up high moraines, east, west.
The millionaire down the way hired a yellow cat with a big
            claw

to make a flat beach and 70 red Macs to carry away the
            glacier’s mistake.
No regard for 25 oaks, hidden lady slippers, Ogala pottery shards.

I sit on the porch, letting nature be, sipping my coffee,
comforted by the blue shadows writing genealogy on the shore.

I, too, evolutionary, once a bird, before that, a fish,
faint memory of fetal gills closing before my birth.




How to Hunt Wild Animals
    (Saudi Arabia)

by Ann Struthers

From Canary Winter 2017-18

Herds of gazelles, sand-colored dancers,
leap across the desert, but their delicate legs cannot outrun
Land Rovers driven by the young princes,
white kaffiyahs thrown back from their eager faces.
High-powered rifles aim: blood spatters the desert;
prize heads decapitated; carcasses bloat in the sun
for buzzards, kites. Buffalo Bill’s ghost
oversees the slaughter. He has not witnessed
so much gore since he murdered the Nebraska buffalo.

The princes live well, collect trophies for their desert palaces,
learn to shoot the mountain ibex and the shy oryx
from helicopters. No creature escapes.

The golden desert rabbit huddles in its den;
jerboa hastily drinks its morning dew,
even the viper and sand cobra shudder.




No Horns, No Trophy
    (Sri Lanka)

by Ann Struthers

From Canary Winter 2017-18

Meeminna, miniature, toy Mouse Deer, one foot tall:
velvety buff brown coat, striped or
spotted white as if embroidered with silk.
Beauty is his country and Caution his
house and home. By daylight he snuggles down
in jungles where spotlights of sunshine
freckle the foliage-strew floors.

His severed head is not displayed in Sri Lanka’s villas
for Meeminna has no horns, no great candelabrum racks
the great boasters must have wild boar
with his murderous tusks,
water buffalo’s horns of homicide,
slithering leopard’s rosette pelt to prove
hunters superior to the hunted.

Meanwhile, Mouse Deer, wary of the mongoose,
of dogs, feral cats that stalk him, slips through
lazy shadows, relieved to be left out
of The Elect, emerges at dusk to
The Edge of the World on Horton Plain, browses on
delicate grasses. Startled, he leaps back
to obscurity, writing half-ovals
on the silvery air.




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