Poems by Becky Faust

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Strip Mine

by Becky Faust

From Canary April/May 2009

A terrible, lunar beauty,
pale and sere
like leaves past withering
when we run along the edges,
slag bits broke loose and
rolled down the wash
to the bottom,
pebbles round
as dark marbles,
two halves of ancient bivalve clam
facing each other
in frozen contemplation,
the animating spark
between them
buried in sediment eons ago.

At the edge
wild chicory contributes its blue
to the green and white tangle
of Bindweed and Queen Anne’s Lace,
then, the shallow mine pit,
wide, rusty gash,
obscene nakedness
of rock scoured of soil by the rains
since the miners packed up their rig
and left.

Ledges with crumbling faces
of limestone, gneiss, and shale,
whole trays of layers which separate
to reveal the mystery
of delicate calligraphy on slate,
ancient fern or fish,
or link to man.

first published in the North American Review, Spring 2007; finalist for 2006 James Hearst Poetry Prize.

What Follows

by Becky Faust

From Canary June/July 2009

If a tree falls and no one hears
then it didn’t fall, you’d say, but
I say the tree would know,

and so would the hive-world
that had hummed and teemed
in its branches. And the blossoms

would know, each sticky stamen
barren of pollen. Okay you say,
then think of a fallen rock

I didn’t hear. But I can see
earth’s new crater, blades
of grass bent, dust disturbed;

each perturbed molecule
knows that rock fell. Okay,
but not in my reality,

you’d say if I didn’t hear
or see it. But I tell you
my reality is as wide

and yearning as water,
so that strip mine waste
dumped into a stream

wafts its effluent plume
through estuary and ocean
that connect endless land

touching land I walk through,
air I breathe in. I never even
licked that apple,

but my heel still stings.
With original sin,
it only begins.

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