by Anne Haven McDonnell

I like to go out at night, let the stars remind
me of what I can’t get near. Clocks of fire.
I could list the zeros, trail them off
the page. I don’t think that gets us closer. When I despair
for the burning world, my friend zooms out
toward a time without us, vast and quiet. Cells dividing,
lichen eating stone, something crawling
out of the sea. I’ll admit a kind of comfort
there. But I’m working on staying.

When we floated down the Grand Canyon, our guide
drew maps of time with a stick in the sand –
shallow, warm oceans, animals with shells pressed
to stone. He slid a piece of paper under a rock, wrinkling
it to show where continents collided. As we paddled
our rafts toward the smooth tongue
of current, the deep pull of the river’s want
of sea, rock rose above us, swallows carving loops
and arcs over layers of deepening limestone, sandstone,
shale, schist. There are places on earth that only rivers know.
There are kinds of knowing too slow for breath. Last night
I went out in the rain, kneeled to watch a black slug slowly sheathe
along its trail of slime. It poked the air toward me
with its boneless horns. Its skin glistened
like something just born. It left
a trail of mucus, starlit on the black road.


Anne Haven McDonnell lives in Santa Fe, NM where she teaches as an associate professor in English and Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her poetry has been published in Orion Magazine, The Georgia Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, Alpinist Magazine,, and elsewhere. Anne has been a writer-in-residence at the Andrews Forest Writers’ Residency and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.