Three Poems by Maren O. Mitchell


Brushing aside the ancient 
interchangeable usage with U 
and claim as both vowel and consonant, 

our finger sign for
crops up first,
yet, the V that overrides 

our species’ wars on itself
is the vein that runs 
through perennial generations 

of migrant geese, pelicans and ducks 
in flight formation, 
calling the advance of winter

while they body surf 
above the wingtip vortices 
of the bird ahead, 

wings in opposite synchrony, 
each leader dropping back to recover 
as another gains a turn 

at rowing into virgin air, 
to reduce drag, increase range,
to pull and guide 

their multi-being convoy 
from one seasonal home to another, 
taking the whole globe for granted.

Vanishing Act

We live in a house 
that infiltrates a forest; 
beyond our time, 
its wood, metal, stone will 
return to stone, metal, wood; 
cougar and oak and humus 
will march over, reclaim; 
trees will top 
with nests of squirrels, 
silly lawn will elevate into 
dens of fox and bear surveyed 
by hawks and turkey vultures 
lifting life, and our small 
scent may last a while
but, eventually will be 
forgiven and forgotten.

Tree Talk

Until now, in whimsy I’ve always seen 
and heard branches as reaching out,

as swaying to express joy they could not 
contain, answering winds, rain and light 

with ballads and serenades, but those 
who study trees at the growth rate of trees, 

dendrologists, find that trees talk with 
each other through roots 

among fungal networks 
that hunt down minerals, 

send out chemical and hormonal signals,
paid with 30% of the tree’s sugar, 

warning of traumas, giving out advice 
for good health, and more, like

keeping stumps alive in the network 
for hundreds of years, and nibbled leaves 

emitting ethylene gas to set off tannins 
in other trees, driving away browsers—

chatting up the neighborhood, 
lines of communication always open.

Maren O. Mitchell’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Poetry East, Appalachian Review, Tar River Poetry, Still: The Journal, The Cortland Review, Hotel Amerika, and Chiron Review. She won the Georgia Poetry Society 2012 First Place Award for Excellence. Her nonfiction is Beat Chronic Pain, An Insider’s Guide (Line of Sight Press, 2012). With her husband she lives in the mountains of north Georgia.

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