Poem by Cleveland Wall
I grabbed the dictionary and flipped more pages and all kinds of things seemed to be verbs: “to be a hill,” “to be red,” “to be a long, sandy stretch of beach” . . .
Robin Wall Kimmerer, on learning Potawatomi
Who is being an apple tree? My friend
over there with the shady leaves.
My sister with white blossoms in her hair
apples temptation, sweet-fleshed and comely.
Apple sister roots herself, entwines
with honey pear cousin, dips into mycelium
buzzing news of the forest.
Who is being a forest? Who shades the moss?
Who wears the lichen mantle stands sentry
at the mouth of the river. Who is the river?
Did anyone ask to become the summer
evening air sedulous with dew?
Who dews in clear globes remembering
cloudburst she will do, has done,
will do? Who am I breathing tree breath
if not tree kin? If not apple and worm,
bacterium and spore?
When I was rhizoming, the mineral-rising
surged through, while you were beaning
nitrogen into the soil, which earths
tirelessly—for so long, for so long--
but what glad work it is!
You can view the video of the poem reading here:
Cleveland Wall is a poet, mail artist, and librarian in Bethlehem, PA. She performs with poetry improv troupe No River Twice and with musical combo The Starry Eyes. She is the author of Let X=X (Kelsay Books, 2019) and many small, handmade chapbooks.
The poems that follow are powerful evidence that Poetry Speaks Back to Hunger!