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Karen Massey reads “Mary Oliver in the Hereafter”


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Mary Oliver in the Hereafter

I have walked back home, weightless beside a field of cosmos
crowding ripe sunflowers. Tomorrow rests, set to go,
brief as a match-head flare. Whether you waken
hearing birdsong or feathery catastrophes,
what do you bring to honour self in the process?

Meanwhile, across the lake starlight slides into the moon’s reflection.
In what forest will you sleep tonight?
How will you make your repairs?

I pause, to look out through the dark sentient eyes of nearby horses.

Look up.

How becoming, the chestnut mare, bending with her foal
to nibble apples wizening on dirt in the frosty orchard,
shared breath visible in the ghostly haze.
Consider what next slips in,
a small pact of deer have come furtively over the field
to share the fallen fruit in this nurtured safety.

Sing light, implores the mare, gently nickering to her foal.
Hope is not expressly for the holy. Moreover: Joy.

Come enter the light in the eye of the mare
that would lead you forward. Sip this light,
nudges the horse that would lead you to fresh water.

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Karen Massey (she/her) lives in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded Algonquin Anishinabe territory. Her poems and found poems have been published online, and in 2 dozen print anthologies, and in literary journals including The New Quarterly, Aesthetica, subTerrain and Arc Poetry Magazine, where she received the 2020 Diana Brebner Award. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English Literature. Both of her chapbooks are from above/ground press.