Table of Contents



Rachel Moritz



Into the time plateau, these lake lots auction
Themselves on barren strips we drive by.
Then bales dulled in yellow grass, & I
Am an analog self in the seat of my son's digital narrative,
Wondering who sold the steamer of our past
And its augury birds flying backwards
To this landscape where so much usage carries grift.
Once in basement rooms that lived below
My childhood, we shot at targets
With his kit guns, my father again
Emerging. The trigger with our eyes
Drawn, pleasure of aim & arrival. Daughter,
Mother, made first in a body
Four decades fuse the carapace
of faked boar & deer, a field's late winter.
Now the future is my boy's aim, arrow culling air.
To share his sequence of precision & absence.
Then to drive home resembling my childhood self
Because how do we imagine elsewhere.




each bird with its nest
sake tremors a queer note
and steamboats go on
parsing up
the vein of woodlots
culled for empire
or otherwise earliest
grassy notation
on a page hearing
woodpeckers tap
some bog willow
or arrow grass tasting
sweet, some hickory
or maple with its fingerprint
of ice, once
two hundred species
lost already from place
steam rising
with our river's
yellow foam and I miss
the old planet, woke up
one morning certain
I could feel a shift
how snow does not taste
the same, drier or wetter
some white rose here
was six feet high and entire
leafed spiked grass
to examine wild plants 
we cared more for
flora's weather
than who it was
lived here though nothing
unusual for the white
time kept alive
inside myth
any latch to land
a natural thing but always
this way of seeing
through naming
and what was the orobanche-
like plant the bluff 
four hundred feet
before the town-
site's umber wing
caught in the catalog
of put out the Indian
things then pioneer
all the little house
museums still string
our warming century




if each American place is hoax
once rain streaks this sheet of open water
he swims across a morning
as it rises toward today
spandex of joggers
tinfoil cars on a parkway
single oak may have seen him
large enough with wider arms
the boarding house where
now lies the mansion
if an ice house kept
our past intact
until months of heat
sugared our water
if already grain mills
and lumber men
in snow fields
if where hackberry bore
bits of lanceolate leaves
he climbs a hillside carrying
pages of his journal
was written about for
years by those who shared
his love of what
once was called nature
or place so in catalogs
the lake grew shallow
the rock blonder
and this wild with much pink
flowering he found     
on his western quest to cure       
disease of domestic variety     
of succor in his lungs      
of Illinois rails ditch-     
weed & cough spotting    
no longer does the apple tree     
grow east
daily searching for his specimen
to secure a plant book pressed
of Latinate cursive   
found wild plums
& raspberries   
farmers pile in buckets    
their marshy shorelines   
their long taproots   
succumb as he will   
to the death
of bark & fruiting
orchards to the past  
in grassy notation on a page
nevertheless I remain wild
only like myself
he writes, wind ever
blowing my branches
away & what is the cost
of making beautiful 
his deep kettle pond
whose ice packed in sawdust
sent cool drinks to slavers
today's white piano gleams
through windows of elites
despite a name's transformation
wealth forever plundering
pale pink flowers
of the crab-
apple on these shores
secured a corymb
for the naturalist




When was it
the great flocks of swans passed us

overhead, their triangles
of aliveness:

the animal fabric

pulsed back


When was the car seat
of the Volkswagon

my father saw as prototype,
generational muscle

glowed its language:

sky & price


When was the first computer
he installed in my bedroom,

its donut disk, coiled

tenor of phone line

as it doubled


& the language
of human activities

testified before Congress
& the wings

of Boeing airplanes
blued our troposphere


When was the last year
of high school

in the boxy vehicle:
teenage lust

aware of ourselves dully

as harbingers

of futurity


holding our girl hands
in a closet of small extinction

a harmony
on hillsides named us

unseen image & instrument





POEM WITH ARCHERY RANGE: During the first pandemic lock-down, I spent hours at the archery range with my 9-year-old son. It was one place we could go outside where we'd be alone. This poem—and its weird sense of time travel—was the result of those early months.

[ALL THE LITTLE HOUSE MUSEUMS STRING OUR WARMING CENTURY]: This poem is from a series exploring Henry David Thoreau's visit to Minneapolis (where I live) in 1861, along with the language of empire and science and climate change.

[SECURED A CORYMB FOR A NATURALIST]: This poem is from a series exploring Henry David Thoreau's visit to Minneapolis (where I live) in 1861, along with the language of empire and science and climate change.

CARBON BIO: I'm a child of the 1970s, the beginning of a massive increase in carbon dioxide emissions into our atmopshere. How I might mark a biography along those lines was the impetus for this poem.