We know California will take it the hardest: losing
palm trees is never easy. No one will speak
of the redwoods. As a community, we’ll fold
& unfold our sweaters, pack night
bags with the last of our peaches. We’ll wait.
We’ll breathe but think of it only
when smoking. Eventually, the telephone poles
won’t hold, & we’ll call a desert a desert
again. No one will bless the faucets or pray
for hailstones to halve like human eyes,
so the baptism by thistle will go unnoticed. It will be
easier that way—to say no one was watching.
Nalgene bottles will go fast & flasks even faster.
By night, some will rediscover their hunger
for another hunt, so others will become prey, evading
brandings, shackles, open roads. We’ll trellis
mountains in groups, using fish bones for cairns, & when
dirt storms over us a second time, we’ll hope
for locusts. A woman will claim she’s seen trumpet vine
covered with golden husks in North Dakota.
We’ll wait. No one will bless her pocket. No one
will pray for a stranger’s empty shell.
To celebrate National Poetry Month and in appreciation of the many cancelled book launches and tours, we are happy to present an April Celebration: 30 Presses/30 Poets (#ArmchairBookFair). Please join us every day for new poetry from the presses that sustain us.
Copyright © 2020 by Lisa Fay Coutley
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
© Randy Mattley
Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of tether (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), Errata (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award, and In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. Her poems have been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sewanee Writers’Conference, a Rona Jaffe scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize. Recent work appears/is forthcoming in AGNI, Black Warrior Review, Brevity,Copper Nickel, Missouri Review, Narrative, and Pleiades. She is an AssistantProfessor of Poetry & Creative Nonfiction in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she advises the student-run journal and coordinates the fall reading series.
"In tether, a spacecraft of a book superbly conceived and assembled, Lisa Fay Coutley engineers both recovery and healing in poems that swerve emotionally between the landing bays of grief, longing, and wonder. A bright hunger constellates around these poems, but so too the immensities of love. Tether is a burning inquiry into the miracle of being here on earth and what keeps us fastened to each other, for better or worse."
"Tether is a book of distances and intimacies, of letters never sent and dream talks and delayed communiques, It is a study of distance between us, between an astronaut and a poet, between lovers, between ourselves and each other, ourselves and ourselves. 'We are the beached boat / with a hole in its hull' admits the poet. Each of us, even as 'baby in a womb is a cloud.' And yet there is so much love. And yet, everything that happens to us, happens for a purpose. And when one turns worthy, a giant squid washes ashore.It is this knowing, this insight into our distances (of years, of geography, of a space of a single day) here that I find compelling: '& how far / must you back away / from yourself / to see / yourself / as the Astronaut / sees/Earth.' Beautiful work."