How We Stilled the Leaves of Every Alder

By BRANDI KATHERINE HERRERA

i am breathless in the unnamed woods.
inspiritus, prana, pneuma, qi.
we carry provisions.
canteens.
one of us carries a gun.
we wait for someone to break the silence.

not even an august breeze.
our breath is shallow.
how carefully we listen for birdsong.
the choir of poplar, oak, walnut.
how it begins to rain.
how we fashion makeshift umbrellas.
how we watch for the flashes of ruffling rust.
how our chatter becomes repetitive notes.
we stop and survey the distance.
how i fill the gun’s pneumatic body.
how i line the sight with the steel barrel.
i am thinking of roast chicken.
of the weeping willows.
how i cock the model rifle like a toy.
how i place my finger through the keyhole.
how quickly i forget the flutter as it falls through branches.
how i drop the gun.
how i turn to flee.
how i do not ask for assistance.
i am thinking of lemonade sundays.
of ancient egypt.
five of us in the unnamed woods.
watching the earth as it mimics feathers.
how the sighs of leaves envelope us.
i am thinking of swimming pools.
of cornfield mazes.
how i do not ask for forgiveness.
or search for the body.
how without a word my rank is established.
how my aching lungs swallow terror.
spiritus, prana, pneuma, qi.
i do not reach for the map.
i do not attempt to locate its soul.
i do not search for flowers.
i am thinking of my dead sister.
of limestone quarries.
how i pick up a stick.
how i run toward the house.
how their laughter erupts like birdshot.

 

Brandi Katherine Herrera’s poetry, reviews and stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Word For/Word, VoiceCatcher, The Oregonian, Charlotte, Written River, Fish Bones Poetry Review, and others.
Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Rhys-s
How We Stilled the Leaves of Every Alder

Related Posts

Image of Sewer Bed Beach

Effluent of the Affluent

MARY BERGMAN
We are losing this place twice over: first to money, and then to sea. There are ways to quantify these losses: only 3,200 bushels of scallops were caught this past winter and more than $2 billion in real estate transactions were recorded last year. My parents aren’t sure where they should be buried.

Coconut and Bananas

ROMANA CAPEK-HABEKOVIC
A couple of days ago my husband returned from the grocery store with a pound of bananas and a small coconut. The bananas were perfectly ripe for consumption, and I put them in a fruit basket.

A picture of the inside of a Don Quijote convenience store in Japan.

Inconvenience Store

SOPHIE DURBIN
Don Quijote makes no attempt to follow the traditional model of neat and unobtrusive conbini; its aisles were bathed in flashing lights and lined with neon signs brandishing sale prices. My head spun as I followed arrows pointing to various products, and I soon abandoned my mission to find face wash, instead pausing every few feet to gawk at gimmicks like teeth wipes and heated eye masks.