A poem by Tanya Kern, who went into the woods and cut her wrists, and died,
last week. I don’t know how much lonelier it gets than this.
We can never know how much another person is suffering.
There was a memorial service for Tanya, yesterday, in Victoria.
She sent her last manuscript of poems to Richard Olafson the day before, saying,
“Do what you like with these.” – Susan Musgrave
Imagine the mother. She searches for a daughter
made to marry, forced down the long orchard to the well. No child
in a white dress. Her mouth goes blind, stitches the web of evening
in distress. She doesn’t see the new tree, one arm outstretched.
Or the tree is the mother. Too many children, a hard man.
She looks for a mushroom, the certain kind.
Finds one, picks off the dots and stops
to watch the deer. Puts one finger to her lip
and turns to wood, one arm an outstretched bough.
Rooted in her time she crosses centuries to pose
against my autumn night. Yes. These are her children grown
and buried just beyond. How I can tell she was a woman:
lightning laid her face bare. Bark striated hair. The trunk
shattered and clefted marks her woman. Wounded.
No. She was a native girl or somehow wild dreaming
open-mouthed, fingers outstretched
collecting camas bulbs for winter starch. She wants to live
with animals, flaunts her impure chastity against the earth;
decades march across my century. One woman’s life
bound in sap rings. Clay-green. A root. A home. Seed
in this field of risen stone. Living open.