Andrew McSorley is a graduate of the MFA program at Southern
Illinois University, Carbondale (USA). His poetry has been
nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in journals such
as The Minnesota Review, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Gamut,
and Blue Earth Review. He lives in Appleton, Wisconsin (USA), where he
works at the Seeley G. Mudd Library at Lawrence University.

Scattering Our Grandfather

A field.
Lost in cattail snap and alder rot,
among sedge whisper and wing-rustle.
He will be there, in the shadow of maple leaves,
wind-scattered, seed-blown.

We emptied the can in fistfuls,
ash seeping between our fingers,
gauging grief by silence.

His body to swamp grass,
body to birch root, to crane feather,
body to arrowhead, to dogwood spike,
as if to say: here is the man
who sustained us. We hoist
him to the ravened morning.
He is yours.

after artwork by Rebecca Guay

The seed that fell, or was planted here,
blooms a crooked tree on a meadow's coast.
All the rocks have ground to dust, grass
is the heaviest mountain. Cloud-striped
yet calm, the sky bears autumn leaves
and they curl like a beautiful woman's hair.

I wonder still what fruitless tree can settle here,
miles from the island's edge, no oasis in sight.
I wonder how long it stood through drought
and feathery rain, to overcome the reeds
and rise above its own singular darkness.
Savior of the plains, it is a thin spindle still,
and where we find reprieve in its gold bloom
we see the truth: to survive, expose your roots.

after artwork by Rebecca Guay

However you like it. Sun or moon,
fireflies or stars, branches sharp
as needles. Thick algae or dune grass,
dusk or dawn, the horizon curving
like a mouth, or lips, or hands,
however you like it. Prayers like smoke
rising from the trunks of barren trees,
the yolk of earth spilling over blue water.

Beauty hides in a night like this, prowls
the storm-shallow shore and sleeps
in a bed of yellowed grass. This is youth,
or old age, or rebirth, or eternity;
however you like it, there is still light,
passing clouds, still the river, how it shines.


Unnecessary mouths hold unnecessary dirt,
crumb-spackled legs and the darkness
of soil, the blue-moon shine of its depth—

I heard once how, if ants suddenly bubbled
to the surface, they would cover the breadth
of the world ankle-deep—a durdling, milling
volcano, antennae-ash and segmented bodies
pulsing down the sloped stone of every street.

We like to keep things in their proper places,
the spoon in its drawer, the book on its shelf,
the ant in the ground. Nearer, it seems,
to the places we used to want to be, those cold
mysterious worlds we could never find.
Where we could carry more than ourselves.

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