Jennifer Macbain-Stephens
Cracked Earth to Valleys, or All the Flower People

It starts with a crackle. A downpour, then silence.
Everything grows here.

It’s easy to lose one’s way—
the dark greens swallow me whole
lushness a monster, light greens turn dusk to shadow
beckon me to the creek down the street and the creek up the street
reborn upon Fisherman’s Rock.
Dust is absent,
Every droplet a disguise, all moisture a lie.
I am overtaken by a shimmering green person suit.

                        The dawning of shhhh
                        chords flourish, electricity flickers
                                                           wind power left for dead.

The Occoquan River   begrudges morning,   a shivering shingle
one lone obstacle                   wedges into a human-made
Pike maneuvers past muck sick tendrils
float wet cement still            leaf veins caught prisoner
halfway to sludge.
So many mosquitos
           drone a quiet mass.

           slicked back sparrow pantomimes flight
a crowd source bird tolerates
curmudgeon swallowtails, uninvited to feed,
scarcely pecks black seeds, a favorite I am told.
The humming bird foregone for
the yellow finch
see a brilliant flash of wing    a starring role
against green              tree lined screens.
Cardinals don’t swoon as well.

A coral Tiger lily bends over dandelion business
sturdy to the white root, an edible crown.
Black-eyed Susans run amok, impervious to drought, if there ever was one.
Runt pumpkin seeds sprout in a Ziploc sandwich bag,
too confident to hide.
Bees pull rank, choose the brightest landing pads, dodge angled rain.

I only visit land locked Iowa in dreams
The snarling sidewalks, the summer ants,
the brightest corn field                                           in hazy stop motion
The sun falls into the Iowa River every night, a preschool painting

It’s the oxygen that wakes me                        dramatic gusts
stops and starts.
The wind all encompassing, always    everywhere at once,
through valleys, over hills,
the top of this hill surrounded by sycamore and elm is the same
                         as that last curve, that bend taken yesterday.

A lightning rod flashes a quick truth:
you could be this still.

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in the DC area. She is the author of two full length poetry collections (forthcoming). Her chapbook “Clown Machine” recently came out from Grey Book Press. Recent work can be seen at Jet Fuel Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Inter/rupture, Poor Claudia, and decomP.