Poetry: Linda Russo


“the going”

cloud cover, sun
gleaming lightly
through leaves
clouds redir-
ecting light dow-
n in rays over w-
aves of traffic
down uh hill-
side & the rhy-
thmic patterns
sealing up sm-
all spots in te-
rrain spread-
ing out shad-
ow slices quick-
ly hard to see
bird frequenc-
ies, bee hour,
“I can’t tell you,”
“feel it,” the “man-
y will rise / hidden
away” from your
“forbidden” ear
the “vanishing, unr-
ecorded, saved” –
“like between then
& now” like betwe-
en her papers
feel her pulse &
intelligence quiet-
ly there, making
a yard with a
bee in her bra-
in “my probl-
em bending” und-
er “another
problem” “large-
r than mine” not
death by any
stretch but “passi-
ng at the place”
remaining “unnu-
mbered” sav-
ing this place “is
the going” “Divi-
ne,” try to pla-
ce the chirp
in for the lift
where the we-
edy cracks crowd

“the tradition”

trees never burd-
en the geograp-
hy of birds-
ong so small s-
o small a mix a
clustering, collid-
ing, overlapping
“my problem”
in the mindful-
l tradition of le-
aving tunes so
small on lea-
ves “another
problem larg-
er than mine”
a green quiv-
ering chicka-
dee perch so
small so “man-
y will rise” twi-
ning “unnum-
bered” inha-
le in “pas-
sing” so sm-
all a scene
to wake for

These two poems arise from my “yard work” of the past few years, inhabitory investigations that extend from my backyard to my larger bioregion in the Pacific Northwest. For one of my summer “residencies” in my yard, I processed perceptual data in my immediate environment while reading through Emily Dickinson’s collected poems. In Dickinson’s constant positioning of her small self toward the immense (the divine), I was drawn to the tension between the details of things-in-themselves – which often express a locatedness in her surroundings – and their metaphoric potential to gesture toward something else. These are not axes I share, necessarily, and I think these two poems may be a way of reckoning her treatment of belief with my own much more mundane treatment of perception and materiality.

Firetower ID 2012 521Linda Russo (inhabitorypoetics.blogspot.com) lives in the Columbia River Watershed, tends a small plot at Koppel Farm Community Garden, and teaches at Washington State University. The Enhanced Immediacy of the Everyday is forthcoming from Chax Press. Her published works include Mirth (Chax Press), picturing everything closer visible, a chapbook-length excerpt of a walk-in poem (Projective Industries), several essays, including an itinerant essay around a reading of Emily Dickinson’s The Gorgeous Nothings (https://jacket2.org/reviews/light) and the preface to Joanne Kyger’s About Now: Collected Poems (National Poetry Foundation), and “The Confluence,” an experiment in counter-mapping (Curating the Cosmos).