Winter Journal: Scratchings among the Burnings

By Emily Wilson b. 1968 Emily Wilson
clouds in rafts above, upon one another, pushed up along
       the margin of sky
       dark underbellies
Shirring of grasses and the nearly empty apple tree behind
Where is this beginning from?
The roll of clouds bolsters up close
       moves vaguely east
Hear the interstate, its rush of backdrop constant
Oh those deep colors are something sacred
There are patches of olive green, chartreuse, umber, piled
       against each other, snapping and smoking almost
       and then the empty prongs and systems
       against the grays, burnished and glowing
The cloud roll has changed now, been buffeted slowly
       into bunches, disorganizing
Oh, these torches before me that seem to burn brighter
       as the light fades
This aching gradation, smear and
       gleam-forth and then the bare black hands up through
       splaying and forcing the crowns
       so slightly, just a tender worrying up from inside
       the swollen gloves, the spheres of them, the undoing
       the serial falling-off
Furious brocade, yes, devastation
That one oak in its torque
and above, against the maddening subtle surface of the sky
       the barely defined roads upon it, the passages
       the growings-forth
       gobbed and wrought, rich impasto
       stubborn, unbecoming
Now the grays, almost purple, seem to move forward
       branching up from out of the background
       darkening forth
       surge from within the mass
       organisms coming up against each other, bulging and turning
       off, roiling
       slow and mesmeric
       the contained motion of it rooted
       static movement, within stasis
       damage then recovery, damage then recovery
A lighter band of sky now, stratum between dark cloud and
       complicated span of tree-frieze
       layering, up-changing
       free-needled, built-up duns and copperings
       score and rose-green gore, stitch and fret
       always upon the under-thing, the broad backing up over
       the one

Emily Wilson, “Winter Journal: Scratchings among the Burnings” reprinted from The Keep. With permission Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2001.

Source: The Keep (University of Iowa Press, 2001)

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Poet Emily Wilson b. 1968

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Nature, Winter


Emily Wilson was born in Ohio and grew up in Maine; she was educated at Harvard University and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her collections of poetry include The Keep (2001); Morpho terrestre (2006), a limited-edition book with prints by Sara Langworthy; and Micrographia (2009). Poet James Galvin noted in the Boston Review that Wilson’s poetry matches “wildness of diction with precision of sense.”
Wilson has . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Winter

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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