MARIA CARSON TO HER DAUGHTER, RACHEL, WHO ATTENDS THE PENNSYLVANIA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN, 1925
Go beyond the farm. Go
where words and clover
converge, where books
line walls and knowledge
fountains into the streets.
I’m sorry that your college
clothes are hand-sewn
that we parcel our land
and sell plots to pay tuition
that we've sold the chickens
and the china. I will teach
the children to play piano
for your sake and for theirs
for the world is a crippled
sparrow without its artists.
Your absence has brought
shadow where your words
were mid-day sun. My solace
is that your capacities
will be nourished, that you
will write with a bold
and blossoming pen.
Free yourself of the world
that binds women
and wild creatures within it.
This is about fish that glow in the dark
how the phosphorescent plankton
in their bellies transforms them into a school
of tiny souls spinning around seaweed
in an ocean wave shaped like a question mark
while science turns its clinical head away
looks to the ringed moon for answers
fingers to its neck, searching for gills.
This is about getting to know each other
again as a planetary imperative
a cell membrane circling a globe
worlds within worlds, organs within organs
mitochondria coughing up smoke
seagulls swooping the surf
roses falling, still dripping of love.
This is about the smallest cell traveling
around the world and seeing itself
in a lemon tree, dirt, a pack of wolves
as earth hatches clouds and country roads
its organelle, from the salted mountain
to the dog barking at a strawberry moon
both familiar and phenomenal.
Donelle Dreese is a Professor of English at Northern Kentucky University. She is the author of three collections of poetry including Sophrosyne (Aldrich Press). Donelle is also the author of the ecofiction novels Deep River Burning (WiDo Publishing) and Cave Walker (Moon Willow Press).