Sam DeFlitch, author of Confluence, is a National Poetry Series finalist. Her work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Colorado Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Appalachian Review and in On the Seawall, among others. Sam has received awards and fellowships from the Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, and the University of New Hampshire, where she completed her MFA.
This is what happened: I found
the wren frozen stuck to the ground
and I kept on moving. The onion
snow came too late this year;
the hard freeze took out the plums.
Some farmer kept the coal
barrels burning through the night.
Another lit half his land
on fire to save the grapes. Some
theologians think God gave us grapes—
but not wine—so we, too, could find
joy in creation. See: we make bread
to be torn apart, hot. Hot and full
of yanked-up wheatsheaf. We
love the dog even though we know,
we know—be it love or oats,
we know it when we plant it—
most things don't make it out alive.
This is just to say: I'm not a
theologian, or a farmer, or even
the woman who scooped up the wren's
body, tucked it in a plastic bag,
and kept it in her freezer between
the berries and winter greens,
waiting patiently for the final thaw
to bury it in soft earth. I'm just
a girl with an emergent deer in her
cupped palms; a girl saying: Look! This is
what I have created with my grief.
This is what love has made out of me.
It is Thursday night.
It is garbage night.
The trash is my old clothes
and my old clothes are slipping through my hands.
My hands are a box full of flies.
The flies are taking off with my hair –
look! I am bald. I am my mother’s truck engine.
I am the space the deer left sleeping in the ferns.
I am 7:52 in the evening.
See, the sun has already set
and the dog is crying to go out. Am I her, too?
Her nose raised, twitching, into the evening air?
My parents are getting old.
I don’t like to say that out loud, but it’s true.
The dog is old, too.
I am rubbing the dog’s legs.
I am a car full of empty coffee cups –
see, I can’t bring myself to dump them.
They remind me of yesterday.
I am all the days that the sky
has broken clear and cold,
spilling oranges across the dawn-line.
I am the Ohio line.
I am West Side Road after all the tourists
have left for the day I am
laying myself down on the asphalt
to watch the stars come out
in real soaring spires above my head
until the dog begins her howling.
I am waking all the days.
I am the ferns, and I keep space for you,
for the coffee cups. I am
peeling my long body
off asphalt, and gone round back
to feed the chickens.
Final Thaw of Soft Earth
Something's not right with my river,
my mother says. And it is Truth: each
night the beavers pull apart saplings,
pull them apart fresh and at the edge.
The river gets blocked. The water stops
and at night I hear howling in the east.
In the year of the year of the plague —
this the age I restring my mother's
mother's Miraculous Medal and hang it
from my dash — the days are long as
a year. Ticks fall like spring melt
from branches and cling to the legs
of the moose calves. A great fir tree
falls on a man as he sleeps. The mountain
is angry, my mother says, and it is Truth.
In the days after this, another surgeon
would open me. There is never any
good explanation for my pain, which
is real. I must have it. Night after night,
this racket in the woods; the re-
building of the thaw-rushed dam which,
this time around, might make a good home.
This remarkable rumpus chirping hope.