In Case of Drought
Call for spring. Conjure
winter’s end. Bandage
limbs cracked or stunted
by wind or worry. Pray for
bees, for pollen bodies.
Pray the plum blossoms
become oval ovums ripening—
clusters green then red-green,
then fruits covered in dusk.
Do not doubt that doubt
will ripen in you. Pull indigo
lobes from limbs, bent.
Gather fruit in your shirt.
Snag windfalls in the grass,
split gladly for sparrow
and mouse. Observe
how doubts shine before
the knife. Sterilize jars.
Boil the fruits for jam.
Note the tiny toothmarks
made by ones who recognize
abundance when it is oﬀered.
Physics Lesson: Valle Grande
Space leans over the Valle:
the Valle slants: from the car,
dense cattle crawl like plusses
and minuses in grasses that sift
the scattered ashes of our physicist:
by the road, wind-scuttled fence-
wire abandons vigilance, slack:
for each experiment, he predicted
wind-risk, mixed thought
with atomic byproducts:
i.e. radioactive bits sprawled
to lakes, to lungs: tried to solve
for all fractions of contamination:
failed: fire made a ghost forest
here: the pines that swished
above his anxieties burnt to black
stick-arrows aim at ice clouds now:
he predicted these sparse spruces
drinking from their shadows,
i.e. pocked snow: predicted
climate shift: said so: grasped
the gravity of risk forcing
him oﬀ center, forcing us all oﬀ
center, at every curve in the road.
Radha Marcum’s work is rooted in ecological, social, and personal landscapes of the American West. Her poetry collection, Bloodline, received the 2018 New Mexico Book Award in Poetry, and her poems appear widely in journals, including Pleiades, Gulf Coast, FIELD, West Branch, Bennington Review, and Poetry Northwest, among others. Radha lives in Colorado where she writes the Poet to Poet newsletter (poettopoet.substack.com) and teaches at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop.