The Works of Jennifer Campbell
Jennifer Campbell is an English professor from Buffalo, NY, and a co-editor for Earth's Daughters. Her first book of poetry, Driving Straight Through, was published in 2008 by FootHills Press, and other poems can be found in Caesura, HeartLodge, and Feile-Festa.
All Poems © Jennifer Campbell
A dandelion puff alights
on a maple tree, inches from
the guitarist’s head. He casts
stunned silence over a crowd
that is moved to meditate
on a holy unholy rooftop
roofed by impenetrable clouds,
caught in the quiet chew
of his words, the meat of his heart—
raw material crows could eat,
but don’t. Courtyard, snapdragon,
city trees rest in round stone basins.
Another fuzzy tuft floats
within rare air—not hot,
but radiant in its stillness.
Like gallant trees that lay down
bark jackets to let women
cross their homemade bridges,
the way scents carry you
through the years, allow safe return
to a place, you may be here now
or folded on a plush carpet somewhere,
calling up concentration, or wrapped
in a lover’s fiercely gentle hold.
You may be wandering your mind’s
graveyard, sighting benchmark indelicacies,
brushing dust off perfect moments.
Or you may be the man slicing the air
with guitar strings, not echoing but alive,
in the center of satisfaction.
Not a mirage: the bark-brown body
of a deer embedded in a half-melted snowdrift.
I drive by it again and again, needing
its awful beauty, taking an atypical commute,
not cringing at death’s sour taste.
I’m captivated by the cryogenic experiment,
how daily chores and weather’s urgency
trump the dignity of removal.
But its head just rests on the road,
body suspended, ever-sleeping,
reminding me of the child I was,
huddled in a beach towel, flanked
by mother and dog. Frozen in unscripted
tenderness, my mother’s eyes
watched another child in the pool.
I tower over her now, note her fragile,
rounding shoulders, though my hands
are her hands, thirty years ago. How is it
we can see, but never believe,
what we’ll become? Stepping out of space
and time for a moment, we come to know
who we are, recognize our voices on tape,
our face in a frame. Unexpectedly,
winter-gray melt and hay-colored autumn
join spring green to become the stage
for a year-end reckoning, raising questions
we’ll forget come February.