Print by Henry Bradbury of Pteris aquilina. (The common brakes, or Bracken.) Courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collections.

In golden underbrush and old growth, the wood-borer
opens timber to light. The bracken thorns itself against the sky.
By the time I wake to branches falling against the roof,
I’ve forgotten sound: no traffic, no street.
I spent my childhood not wondering why the balsam
grew in rows—the natural state of the world
was neat and meaningful. The old rock wall mossed over,
still bounding out its acreage. Every square hole in the woods
maps a once-foundation. Every round hole remains a well.
In autumn, I prepare for death by taking in the land
as if for the last time and am happy. Because I begin each day
at my own end, you tell your riddles backwards—
what is a brick but bad for your teeth? What is an egg
but a chicken with no bones? You’re missing the point, I say,
but your point is transparency. If you only write sad poems
about this place, why would you want to come back?
The birds fly out of the raspberries. What can I tell you
but that I would bottle its leaf rot if I could? The balance of this house,
where every angle makes up for another not being square.

A.E. Talbot is a native of Downeast Maine and managing editor at Off the Coast. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in Mid-American ReviewDay One, and elsewhere.
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