“Ashes its leftover words in my mouth.” A Poem by Jennifer Elise Foerster

From Her New Collection The Maybe-Bird

June 16, 2022  By Jennifer Elise Foerster

“Ashes its leftover words in my mouth”

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The singers have fallen asleep in their cars,
small camps smoldering. What they didn’t sing
ashes its leftover words in my mouth.
Where are you going? The Sun. The Moon.
Where did you come from? Warrior. Star.
Yet in my doubts I strain to hear
the bubble of salt behind sand snails,
the ocean pulling back into its mouth.
What detritus, the mind. I wade knee-deep
in our stratum’s mycelium, laced
like splattered aluminum paint, a mat
of leaves on the forest floor will receive our fall,
we imagined. Before we were forced to leave
we charted the denser galaxies,
trophied the antlers of three trillion trees
to carry with us as a reminder
of the History of the World’s End People.
There was no miracle, no other home.
I look to the east, the fire roads.
Marsh birds are lifting from the methane field,
dwarf white roses blooming in my suitcase.


the-maybe bird

From The Maybe-Bird by Jennifer Elise Foerster. Used with permission of the publisher, The Song Cave. Copyright 2022 by Jennifer Elise Foerster.

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Jennifer Elise Foerster
Jennifer Elise Foerster
Jennifer Elise Foerster received her PhD in English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver and her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts, and is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, NM. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford. Jennifer is the author of Leaving Tulsa (2013) and Bright Raft in the Afterweather (2018), both published by the University of Arizona Press. Foerster grew up living internationally, is of European (German/Dutch) and Mvskoke descent, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. She lives in San Francisco.

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