LONG AFTER HE IS GONE
All the summer’s night
I dream I am awake reading,
following sentences that follow
a woman who finds her husband
by following his footsteps
in snow. She needs
to forgive him, to be
forgiven. When I wake
the street beyond my window
is white and banked
I’m the top of the food chain. I eat
ice cream and the cow it came from.
I eat trees. I eat fertilizer that makes bad
dirt good. I eat badgers and big cats
and wolves. I eat moths
and frogs and the herons that eat them.
What’s an ouzel? Is that a joke?
Give me a chance here—I can
make you very comfortable.
C’mon, drink this river. It’s free.
Pamela Alexander is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Slow Fire (Ausable/CopperCanyon, 2007). Her other books are Inland (1997), which won an Iowa Poetry Prize; Commonwealth of Wings (Wesleyan, 1991); and Navigable Waterways (1984), which won the Yale Younger Poet award. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including American Alphabets, Best American Poetry 2000, The Extraordinary Tide, American Voices, Poetry for a Small Planet, and Cape Discovery, and in many periodicals, including the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Boston Book Review, Orion, TriQuarterly, Poetry, The Journal, New Republic, and American Scholar. Some of Alexander’s poems have been included in an audio-anthology on CD; others were set to music for a public performance, broadcast as part of a satellite radio program, and featured on the websites of National Public Radio and the American Academy of Poets. On the writing faculty at M.I.T. and Oberlin College for many years, she now writes nonfiction and poetry while traveling the continent in an RV with her cat. Her essays have appeared in Cimarron Review and Denver Quarterly.