Toss in some wavy lines, an equal sign, and a squiggle,
then a lilac log, boulders with faces, a few phrases
like rock walls, twin marks from wagon wheels on granite.
The tell-tale lilacs give away the cellar hole:
magnetic lilacs, like nineteenth-century girls
in pinafores and blossom sprays, stationed
beside their no-longer houses. They look about to sing.
Banana curls. Purple ribbons tying their waists.
And boulders in the woods act like billboards
interrupted by an enormous Mont Blanc fountain pen, lounging
like an alligator. It intrudes. Comes out of my present
time. No. Be less. It’s a Bic ballpoint. Bleached by deletion,
“By the middle of the nineteenth century,” when de
forestation reached its peak, “more than half”
of New England’s native forests— according to Robert M. Thorson,
Stone by Stone—“as much as 80 percent in the heavily settled
parts of southern New England—had been cut down,”
“replaced with ‘open space,’” the autumn foliage
is paint-by-number and different tabs throughout
are half-finished murals
of a single type of tree in a single time of year.
Here’s the place where someone w/ a pewter spoon kneeled
to plant the Lady’s Slippers that still appear,
and the mushrooms like a stack of dinner plates
that run up the side of a rotting tree.
Here’s the fallen-in deer stand
and the apple tree among maples making fruit for deer.
Outside the woods, the puff of dust on the road
where the school bus used to stop.
Outside is the failure to stay in touch
or, really, to ever be in touch. I didn’t
ever know them (my neighbors) well.
In winter you are handed a white tray
with a few tiny rock walls, short lines drawn with a ruler,
an indent for where a cellar hole could be
a hyperlink to go once more to the lake
and told to go at it, go play.


ALEXANDRIA PEARY's third book of poems, Control Bird Alt Delete, won the 2013 Iowa Poetry Prize from the University of Iowa Press. Her other books include Lid to the Shadow (2010 Slope Editions), Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers (2008 Backwaters Press) and Creative Writing Studies: An Introduction to Its Pedagogies (co-edited with Tom C. Hunley, Southern Illinois University Press, 2014). Her work has received the Joseph Langland Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Slope Editions Book Prize, and the Mudfish Poetry Prize. She writes and publishes in several genre--creative and scholarly. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Gettysburg Review, Denver Quarterly, Volt, The Chariton Review, and New American Writing. Her creative nonfiction is published at the Superstition Review and Hippocamus Magazine. She also maintains the mindful writing blog, Your Ability to Write is Always Present. She is also an active scholar, publishing in journals including College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Review, Writing Across the Curriculum, and Pedagogy, New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing. She holds a MFA from the University of Iowa, a second MFA in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a PhD in Composition/English from the University of New Hampshire. She is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Salem State University where she coordinates the First-Year Writing Program and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in creative writing, poetics, composition, rhetoric, and theories of writing blocks.

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