PoetryWinter 22-23

Two Poems — Radha Marcum

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

for D.W.M.

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 Marcums 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.

The author: Leah VanSyckel