Winter Journal: Disseminate Birds over Water

By Emily Wilson b. 1968 Emily Wilson
The reservoir churned and cloud-deformed
The far line of hills, fused, bunched color
bitter wind against this hunch
my folded bones
I can see the rust earth beneath trees, the rough mats
       gathering weight in semi-darkness, dim
       nesting bases of trees
Graft of dark cloud upon lighter one behind, building up
       of something, a thickening, deposit of cold air, dark web
       of insistence, built up in me
How long can it be here?
A simmering of trees, a dark moiling
       a winter weight
       a mid-shimmering of heat-distorted things
The positioning of bolts of deep orange, gold-green and amber
       molded, wicked in together
Drops in pressure, now, a field of cold, a shift
       between rain and snow
The movement into this remembering
       of separate things, train sounding its horn, removing
       itself from the scene
Snow thickening the far bars of trees, graying them in
Blotting, dulling, gauzing over this dream
It is snowfalling, it is beauty-filling and cleansing
       this burn of words
       it is delivering something seeming to uplift and to begin
       pressing downward, this ink into frozen droplet
       this thing

Snow plinking in the leaves, the left hands of trees
       the neat levers and pulls
       the odd weeds
The rich fringe of emptying trees
       the shifted pins
the breaks into dense pines into period reeds into gutterings
What happens to the opposite shore
       is untenable
       is unmanageable to me
That stratagem of damage, that unmattering
Believe me it is some abomination of things being killed and
       that mattering to me
That exquisite built thing that is obliterated
       its tiny white amplitude, its singing crushed into
       particles, its must on the undersides of leaves
Now I am sure
       the world has not unfolded before me
       anymore but has closed into rows
       of its foldings
Something in the collections of those trees
       bare branches upthrust, the brush of them
       bare branches up-brushed
       their lip along mesh of shore weeds, the flanged grasses
       the scrim of their midst
       I am in them again
       meddling in darks that are in them
       and the white gold that is their outermost
       screen that is their leafleting their grief that is in me
       thin dredge of pebbles and
       strange glandular patternings of trees
       against trees against cut-bank against breath

The rubied lung of sumac

Emily Wilson, “Winter Journal: Disseminate Birds over Water” 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 Winter, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals


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 Winter, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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