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Fall 2003, Volume 21.1



Anita TannerPhoto of Anita Tanner.

Anita Tanner was raised on a small family farm in Star Valley, Wyoming. She has poetry published extensively in magazines, anthologies, and periodicals including Yankee, Northern Lights, Dialogue, Sunstone, Christian Science Monitor, High Country News, Poet, and New Stone Circle. Her book of poetry, Where Fields Have Been Planted, was published in1999.



Spring heaped on the edges
is simple enough,

but we want to collect abundance
before it spills,

the moon-shaped curve
of water at the top of a cup,

sides bowing,
middle sagging

into a hammock,
bulk and meaning

cohering to the surface,
tension lurking

in our eyes and minds,
asking for more and more time

to assimilate significance
from the surface of things

upheld and prolonged
by the deep beneath,

what is invisible
suspending us

within the bulge
of spring.


Raising a Daughter

From the market
my daughter slings
a bag of pomegranates,
their thick terra-cotta skin
clinging to a thin film
of plastic.
She does not know
what she brings
with the abundance of seeds,
pulpy crimson arils
we'll smear with our tongues,
spill blood streaks
from our teeth.
Eating will tie us
to the underworld.

The ground knows.
Seeds lie hidden,
return to the surface
with more.
Upon graves in Elysian fields
pomegranates fall from trees
so that buried souls
can nibble on them.

The moon knows.
Every month, robbed of itself,
it goes wandering
in search of the ravished portion
until it reaches complete darkness,
and the waters of the world
forget their own nature
and flow upward
to the moon.


Upon Hearing Rodents Are Endangered

This is a story about prairie dogs.
We read it whenever we walk
near an empty field
before they scamper
from the sight, smell, and sound of us.
They pause, glancing through the stance
of our intentions.
In that instant, deciding
whether to flee or delay,
eyeing us and the hole downwind
and gauging the length of the run
it will take to disappear
and the strength of the fear,
they stand—always stand
weighing their own safety
with the risk of a calling—
something they are born to give.

If our eyes dart away
for even an instant,
we may miss it—
the quick frightened prayer
that hardly dares escape
from members of a gang of rodents
widely deemed a nuisance.
Dark burrows beckon,
but they still linger as long
as their grasshopper hearts allow,
linger to test our sight and senses,
feeling the air for song
we may or may not hear—
all of us, watchers, characters,
cast, fill-ins,
all of us and the song
equally endangered.


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