Ours is the curse of the blighted touch
that wilts every green shoot and flower
we mean to admire, keep, re-create

or improve. New Zealand’s huia bird,
prized for her scimitar beak
and pleated Victorian petticoat tail,

was hunted extinct except for this
diving-belled brooch and sad hatband,
fast falling to dust

in the Smithsonian. We love what we love
in the scientific way, efficient, empiric,
vicious, too much

and always we touch it, our breath
blooming algae on the walls of Lascaux,
shimmering in acid-etch green.

[from God, Seed: Poetry & Art About the Natural World (Tebot Bach 2010), first published in West Marin Review.]


Our hands reach for the plough and spade
to loosen the soil annealed by neglect,
but now is the season of sickle and blade.

When it was spring in this garden, we laid
plans for an orchard that bloomed in our lips
and our eyes. We took up the plough and spade

to pledge our troth with the earth. When did
we break that covenant? When, let lapse
the deed? They grew dull, our sickle and blade,

we failed to cut back the blight. Now we bleed,
bitten by the thorn of a rose in whose hips
are stored our silent poisons, and the plough

is slugged. Cut the cane’s throat now, unbraid
the field from the bindweed, its twining clasp.
Song of water and whetstone on blade,

song of the scythe parting vines overhead.
Bees swarm to the light that warms a new glade,
but not here. Lay down your plough and spade
— quick, it’s late! Sharpen your sickle and blade.

[from God, Seed: Poetry & Art About the Natural World (Tebot Bach 2010), first published in Terrain: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments.]

Rebecca Foust’s books are All That Gorgeous, Pitiless Song (Many Mountains Moving, 2010) and Mom’s Canoe and Dark Card, awarded the 2007 and 2008 Robert Phillips Chapbook Prizes. Recent poems have appeared in Arts & Letters, the Hudson Review, North American Review, and Poetry Daily.

Lorna Stevens received her MFA in sculpture from Columbia University. She exhibits widely in galleries and public spaces. Her work has received mention in the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Marin Independent Journal, and Artweek, and has been acquired by the Brooklyn Museum and the New York Public Library.