by Jennifer Brown
Spring on the ground baffles sky—
blue aster lobelia wild hyacinth,
here & there dogwood-clouds—
wind unsettles crows. They drop like old rags
dirtied onto blown garbage. The wind steals
a piece and runs under shade— trillium
toad-lily jack-in-the-pulpit— some bird
hammers unseen— nuthatch titmouse white-throat
sparrow— doleful. No one knows anything,
but these are the names we give it, tasting it,
shaping with our teeth the nothing we know.
Looking around, pointing, fluttering off
to squawk— we failed mimics, we novelists
of the understory, sayers of names,
playing the trading-cards of our favorites,
grandstanding our fine feathers, nothing
underneath but garden-variety
skin, just like everything else that can’t
or won’t say the names it has for us.
Jennifer Brown has taught creative writing and literature in high schools, colleges, summer programs, and festivals and has held residencies at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center. In 2018, she won the Linda Flowers Literary Award from the NC Humanities Council. Her essays and poems appear in North Carolina Literary Review, Utterance: a Journal, IthacaLit, Atticus Review, Cagibi, and are forthcoming in the L.A. Review, Copper Nickel, Cinncinnati Review, and the minnesota review.