Resting on the Ground with My Love in the
Rattlesnake Habitat

Alice Lyons

She pronounces Chama the name of the milky green river
with a richness in the ch I cannot muster, puts a hard d
on the end of her ands. anD. anD. anD. Like the river
she is asking to be endless anD shifting. To stream.
I’d scouted the knoll of oaks for rattlers, being beyond the bounds
of Coverage having no means to learn their habits.
So I lay down with her on the ground. Their ground. AnD
I willed to forget the cares of my later-in-life job search. Job.
Which is also Job, a man in the Bible. Which is a book.
The oaks of the knoll were leaning into the Chama like girls
washing their hair in basins. I thought of EB shampooing Lota,
of Frost’s birches, of Plath’s Wych elms which I’d like to have
googled. Did snakes favor oak knolls? Did Georgia O’Keeffe worry
about health insurance costs in Abiquiú? AnD beside me my love
streaming, her poodles distantly nosing the chamisa. Standards.
I thought I had them. Put art at the front of the queue
wych is different from quiú. AnD now this. Biblical
the proportions of this breaking-back-into-a-country-I’d-
locked-myself-out-of phase. Was it scenic? I liked
the pachysandra, branches of oak taking all that space
from the sky. But then everybody disappeared to their offices.
Three times I wrote work work work when woke
was what I wanted to write.
Miniature is the acorn
I fingered in the soft flour-sack pocket of my jeans.
Acorn smaller than East Coast or indeed Irish Oak varieties
wych she handed me anD how hungrily I pocketed its little body.

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Alice Lyons’s most recent collection of poetry is The Breadbasket of Europe (Veer Books, 2016). She has received the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry, the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary, and grants in literature and film from the Arts Council of Ireland. She was Fellow in Poetry at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University in 2015-2016.



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