Field Note on Gaston Bachelard’s
THE POETICS OF SPACE
The wildflower book says the petals
of Achillea millefolium
can be crushed to powder and applied
to wounds to stop bleeding.
A patch of dormant yarrow lives and waits
for winter’s passing
to the west of my cabin.
The Navajo called it life’s medicine.
Bullet wounds. Shrapnel wounds.
December chill. Barren trees
hug the hill behind and do not shade
my space from the bright afternoon
sun. My desk faces south
below a window framing the lake
as I flip through the pages of the book
then set it aside to begin arranging
my things as though I am home—
though not. My hands
find first the bag of my mother’s ashes.
To stop the bleeding, I set the velvet bag
next to the book, hear dogs barking
from the cabin nearby,
piercing the stolid silence in these Appalachian
because I need to, no other reason,
[wounds don’t heal; they age]
crush the words inside my mouth
so I can taste the things they name.
I’ve spoken them before;
now she can hear me.
Bullet wound. Shrapnel wound.
December chill, the barren trees.
Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird, finalist for the American Best Book Awards, as well as chapbooks The Optimist Shelters in Place, Parrot Flower, and Still Life. Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, EcoTheo, Borderlands and other journals. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and assistant professor at Michigan State University.
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