Fireball / Ana Prundaru

Rachel Jamison Webster
The Mountain is a Park

Features folded and refolded
like the leaves.

In the swells of the oak,
the sediments slip, scars
like stretchmarks advancing.

This is the beginning, a black
wall that reflects light
as if it were the decrepitated
matrix, the clay

in which are embedded all
the shards of the world.

(571)


This poem is from a series “mined” from John McPhee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning account of North American geology, Annals of the Former World. I opened the book at random and mined one poem from each page on which I landed. The words in each poem—including titles—appear in exactly the order in which they appeared in McPhee’s writing and I have not added any words. These poems work with the irony that much of what we know about North American geology we have learned from mining, from a use-relationship with the earth, which extends to other people. I was surprised to find that my mining project exhumed human voices, stories of the people who have been contracted to the earth, and forgotten. John McPhee has given me permission to publish these poems. Page numbers from his book are denoted in parentheses.

Rachel Jamison Webster is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Northwestern University and author of the full-length collection of poetry, September (Northwestern University Press 2013) and the cross-genre book, The Endless Unbegun (2015) as well as two chapbooks, The Blue Grotto and Hazel & The Mirror (Dancing Girl Press 2009, 2015). Her poems and essays appear in many journals and anthologies, including Poetry, Tin House, The Southern Review, The Paris Review, Narrative and Labor Day: Birth Stories from Today's Best Women Writers (FSG 2014).

Ana Prundaru is a multidisciplinary artist living in Switzerland. She is the author of five poetry chapbooks, most recently Unstable Tales (Dancing Girl Press, 2016) and Anima (Dancing Girl Press, 2017).