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Image by Michael Held

what tongues will touch us

The poet muses about nature's cycle of decay and regeneration.

what tongues will touch us

& I thought I was going to sleep

tonight, said my friend

as she sucked down the American Spirit

that we were supposed to be sharing. Sitting

on the wooden patio, we watched

the California hillside radiate

& glow orange & wondered

if the flames would touch


us. The dense smoke billowed, & the warm

light flickered as emergency

vehicles went silently down

the highway. Earlier, we plunged

our naked bodies in the calm

icy waters of the river

that divides


us from the house on fire

& the highway. We turned

on the TV. The couple involved

in the blaze spoke on the air, home in flames

behind them. They said they are happy

to still have their lives.

The man is attractive & I imagine

the places the woman’s mouth


traces, where her teeth lightly

graze. How easily I can imagine taking

him. The next day, we travelled

through sequoias & sycamores. We pulled over

to see a heifer birthing

a black calf, afterbirth

hanging out of her, licking

the baby’s new fur as it stood on shaken legs,

knocked over

by the force of her strong

tongue. The calf searched

her body for milk, attempting


to suckle from her chest, then her ribs before claiming

her swollen utters & their outpour.

We talked about the power of their natures—

when they are pushed out of the tepid canal, the awareness

to stand & how to sustain is pushed

out with them. In the forest are immense


clearings created by loggers.

The cycle goes like this: the trees are severed,

later flames lick

the landscape bare,

then new trees are planted in the burn

scars. It takes


a century for the fresh trees

to grow abundant. We take

a picture standing together in front of the vacant

woodland, the lake & its longing fingers

behind us but far away.

Mason profile.jpg

Mae Ellen-Marie Wissert is an undergraduate at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho. Her work has recently been published or is forthcoming in Black Rock & Sage; Midway Journal; and Children, Churches, & Daddies. She is a poetry reader for West Trade Review. She can be contacted through her Instagram, @ladyymae.

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