Jennifer Elise Foerster is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts and received her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts. She is the recipient of a 2017 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship in 2014, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 2008-2010. A member of the Mvskoke Nation, Jennifer is pursuing her PhD at the University of Denver. Her first book of poems, Leaving Tulsa, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2013, and was a Shortlist Finalist for the 2014 PEN Open Book Award. Her poems have recently appeared in Colorado Review, Eleven Eleven, The Brooklyn Rail, and Kenyon Review Online.
Spring in the Caldera
trill from thickets.
______Green spears, lily-like
______clutch from a ditch.
On the first day of spring
____________golden burrs of chinkapin
__________________buckthorn’s blue-black berries—
a mud-dampened path
empties out at a stream.
________________________I stop to write
________________________& it snows in my notebook.
After snowfall, willows
slant toward the current
sentenced above ice floes
Build a small fire
________________________Outside the window
______________________________the river is high
The fire leapt
from ridge to ridge. I carry your ashes through snow.
________________________blow over the river—
______cinders from the morning’s stove.
Climb three tiers of lakes
through towering tamaracks
____________to scale the burn
____________shiny white bones
________________________my steep trail heaped with obsidian.
______Stitched across the eastern slope
__________________saplings, new sprung.
______claw the sky, roots
______a helix of dying spiders.
From a veiled ridge, mist
spills over the caldera.
____________Throats of ponderosa
____________crack in their icy casements.
________________________Below me, Blue Lake
________________________blinks its blue eye.
__________________blistered bark, owls
______roosting in trees’ charred snags—
______________________________no one to hear out here but wind
________________________high in the old-growth pine
After the settling of scoria and ash
clear water fills the basin
I wash in the deep
flecked with green
scarved with moss
Lichens, bright lime
cling to damp bark.
wedged into banks
make pools for Chinook,
Where earth is soft
surface from snowmelt.
shoot up from muddy seeps.
into a meadow.
I balance on spines
of sunken giants
__________________if I could bury you
__________________here, at last.
Days when there is sun
I carry a book
to the clearing at the stream’s bend.
The wind, spring friend
picks its dark pages.