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Laura Madeline Wiseman

December 19, 2013

American Beech

fagus grandifola


We will know we’re searched for, whispered map; that this skin
indefinitely scars. Because your keys and pocketknives,

will pierce others without mark, we’ll be coveted—those slings
seem insignificant to how you can hold us, bracing a hip

or a shoulder, one palm hard against our flesh, sweating.
We’re made to take it and will open ourselves to air and light.

You can brush away the debris and blow, How’s that baby?
This long summer by the wilderness footpath and river

we will spread our limbs to the sky, watch you approach
and wait for your fingers to trace some old, broken scar.

For a time, forgetting how to recognize the other
and like anything wild, you will consume what’s edible; some

cringe as hearts blacken permanently—to return before that
darkening, only the dedicated, brow damp with effort.

We will never know which initials and dates stay
with you, holding arrows forever for everyone to see.

Always, we will offer our body for the prick of sharp love.
Always, flesh will remember what you carve, the promise of it.



Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of ten collections of poetry, including the full-length book Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012), the letterpress book Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012), and the chapbooks Stranger Still (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and First Wife (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). She is also the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her writings have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner, and grants from the Center for the Great Plains Studies. Currently, she is a fellow at the Wurlitzer Foundation.

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