Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2021  Vol. 20  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Ghost Pastoral
Everyone carries a history of contamination; purity is not an option.
—Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: Possibility of Life
in Capitalist Ruins

Wind collects the sound of bells,
soft pearls of water sprouting on leaves.

Stores of root vegetables soften
beneath my touch. Lilac coating

the back of my throat, I circle
the past like hair loops a drain.

The decrepit shed whose sagging
roof still shelters me, less warning

than spell. Its glass-matted floors,
rusted faucet. Where the cows

once gathered for water.
Where maples tossed their samaras

like confetti. Hovering
like a hummingbird at the edge

of my adolescence, the promise
of a third Chicagoland airport—

a shadow over the shed, the fields,
this pasture. Over what I thought

was natural—our monoculture corn,
drainage ditches, even the poison

my father perfumed through
the barn slats to kill the bees:

I never experienced the world
as anything but ruined and beautiful.  

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