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“Can I lime-/flower? Can I chamomile?/Something in the field cannot” -Jennifer Chang, “Pastoral”

“I’ve seen a lot of things that made blink,/for instance, take the ants across the kitchen sink.” - Jennifer Warnes, “Mama”


Our history was always dictated in footprints, meaning:

a moving away from,                   meaning a cosmology (which here, is

a mother and daughter). It could only be defined

by distance. As a refusal of the space between the tessellation

and the chicken coop. That night when the stars

highlighted the sky’s empty.

It is simply.                    Events follow

one pattern, otherwise I refuse


you hold my heels in the shoe store, your eyes like leather.

you sit on the porch and watch me story the driveway gravel into interesting.

you stand sundressed in the almost of a storm (and break the blue

gramma like chicken necks).


We’re in Nebraska. We’re in a fiction

of field.            We’re in the liner notes

of a Jennifer Warnes record, and they say:


“you may pretend

these events were more beautiful. That when life bore

down like a finger to a scab you only swelled

(this will not hold up to scrutiny),



And I suppose this can be true.”


We’re a long way from the coop, even farther

from the tessellation we never named. No broken

necks. We’re not 

in Nebraska anymore, Mother.              Can your bones grab

that bilocation (or the lie of it)

of us and make it as true as music


(or the lie of it)?        I don’t know


why I’m talking to you. You in the kitchen

coating a cut in super glue

while I watch the storm roll in. I can’t come in 

or I’ll see the knife

and wouldn’t know your blood              from the juices of the meat.


Once there was a story


and once I had a pen. I had a sheet 

of parchment still muddy perfumed

with the broken of gramma. I had the sky flickering

like gasoline. I placed the record against the needle and it crackled

like a star, and I, as a screen door


flung open, found this sound. The same as I found

my feet against the gravel. The beautiful events:


she dances in her linen

after she puts on dinner. I watch from the window

as the heavy wind hugs her dress to her body

and she was the only thing in the field that could

make a dance. In all that empty. 


(see how far we are, her footprints. I have said too much.)


The pot she left boils over, and I ignore

the burning for the sizzle against the eye

was so close to the wind, so close to my mother.



But the truth? She screamed so hard out in that knotting

of earth and wind, the record skipped,

a clean white 

scar on a nothing else, both her and that record. Why does it matter

that I say 

this? To you? Or to the          ? The cycle: eyes like leather, the story

of gravel I never gave an ending, the storm 

that never came. Just two things:


the sky (your skin) a ribbon of grey I never saw since

and that grass bent low like a prayer 

or a slaughter which is so unlike birth 

that god couldn’t be bothered 

to make it bleed.

 Heath Joseph Wooten is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University. He is an avid collector of cassettes and other obsolescences, and you can find his work in or forthcoming from perhappened, Lammergeier, DEAR, and others.

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