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Priscilla Long

What Happened This Morning

Mountain Landscape by William Louis Sonntag

Dawn roars, beeps, whines.
A demolition excavator knocks down
my neighbor Barbara’s corner
of the world: plaster walls
painted blue, dust and concrete,
old rebar. Bucket-shears uproot
the old cherry tree as if
it were shotweed or chickweed.
Away white petals of May!
Before lunch, the skimmia hedge
gets pulled up, piled up.
The western hemlock Barbara
transplanted from her mom’s woods
felled with chainsaw and bucket-butt.
It booms down on the brush pile.
Next to go, the apple tree, its apples
fat, Sudden sun on my side of the fence
smacks the giant fern, shocks osoberry
and mock orange. More chainsaw,
screech and tear, a dirt mountain.

Evening. In sudden silence, I water
the garden, wash dust-choked
leaves. I speak to birch,
huckleberry, maidenhair
fern, my incensed cedar.
Look, I say, remain calm.
We have time, more autumn rains,
more seasons to flower
before the future comes
to rip us out.


About the writer:
Priscilla Long is a Seattle-based writer of poetry, creative nonfiction, science, history, and fiction, and a long-time independent teacher of writing. Her seventh book is Dancing with the Muse in Old Age (Coffeetown, 2022). Her two poetry books are Holy Magic (MoonPath Press) and Crossing Over: Poems (University of New Mexico Press). Her how-to-write book is The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writer’s Life. She is also author of a guide for creators, Minding the Muse, and a history of coalmining in the United States. She grew up on a dairy farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Explore more of Long’s work in Chester River Reverie, her new poetry pamphlet now in release as a free PDF from Buttonhook Press.

Image: Mountain Landscape by William Louis Sonntag (1822-1900). Oil on canvas. 57.5 x 47 inches. 1854. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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