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Six Poems
Of Dormancy

revived after stasis to regrow roots and ribcage of willowy human shape the child emerges lifespan long or short when starved phobias of insects and mean dogs invisible in the trees walk backwards a dozen careful steps connected by ring-count blue beam of flashlight thorn in the mouth after being thawed prehistoric worms moving and eating will not age a seed from a Judean date palm sprouts fruit found in an ancient squirrel’s cache a sacred lotus yeast trapped in amber a fossil weevil slowly metabolizing in the lead cellars of the city where first things lie down with last almost by accident


Of Dissolution

the instructions are biochemical the instructions are finite and compressed the instructions take days you have wanted immersion front to back back to front inside out your fingers fall upon rock-dust strenuous as rock the force of your re-absorption ground-down leaves you have been asked to gather terms to ponder particulate matter eddying starting with smog the odor of insecticide lavish green fern fronds incinerated when brown gravel-dust rising on no-trespass roads ash-beaded clouds what doesn’t diminish is nothing to begin with torrential means to gather if you’re breathing in sand


Of Longevity

spores from salt deposits coaxed duplicated and analyzed no natural limit no singular specimen thrown back against her own fragility you make various claims of me to mature reproduce cycle back to polyp after being multicellular I hear the notes of small birds in their sequence dispersing like shadows mirabilis gymnosperm lingers in permafrost in larvae of skin beetles in competition of disenfranchised immortality I speak only and repeatedly of glass sponges found in the East China Sea


Of Water

to uproot the light you risk contamination build a small structure or fence lock the enclosure to minimize the threat what are the constituents you want to remove? words replicate themselves on websites these discussions concern the body’s distance from other bodies to reveal openings both high and low as day begins to teeter these discussions concern feces and urine where to tie your dog or goat you cup your hands in clay and silt sound out what you’ve learned by now water is blue water is reddish brown always keep in mind you walk on water arms held tightly at your sides in absence of light in darkness in night you roll down the grassy slope singing somewhere over the rainbow


Of Order

in rose bushes the piano tuner has calibrated each drastic specificity of bough please can you measure the finitude of embodiment? out of sequence blurred in relation to or in a continuum with air currents echoes raptors radiation fall out history riding over the earth how many times do I swallow per minute? how many holes must be emptied in order to decenter sound? I go to the supermarket the auto mechanic the doctor how do I keep contiguous count? one wetland rat? one gasp? I write what is owed two different ways the tips of my fingers destabilized by thorns work does get done weeds come


Of Footprint

who else wanders here? crows coyotes stray dogs and cats house-humans and un-housed I hold tree roots tethered display troubled organs on my outside teeth remain as my residue whether I write these words or not what did I purchase? what did I instigate? what refuse constructs what “we” call “home?” in “our” earth-work glossary what won’t be spoken now? quake speculate escape rose vines grow into the camellia hedge the lawn is weeded with dandelions I press the tall grass down where I stand but this is not as passive as it sounds

Barbara Tomash is the author of four books of poetry, most recently, PRE- (Black Radish Books) and Arboreal (Apogee). Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, Verse, VOLT, and elsewhere. She lives in Berkeley, California, and teaches in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University.