Cover image: Joan Stuart Ross, “Kite.” Mixed media collage on oil on canvas, 48 x 34 inches. Used by permission of the artist .
Published: February 28, 2011 [125 copies]
Heather Burns lives in Virginia where she teaches creative writing and runs a non-profit corporation. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia and was a Henry Hoyns fellow. Her poems have appeared in Antietam, Nimrod, Arion, Quarterly West, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among other journals. Combining her interests in teaching, creative writing, medicine, and ethics, she has completed a Masters degree in Biomedical Ethics, and is currently working toward a PhD in Social Foundations of Education, with a focus on literary magazines in medical schools. She is the founder and CEO of the Charlottesville Writing Center (est. 1996), a 501(c)3 literary arts and education organization, and edits two online magazines: Hit and Run and Sitting Pretty.
I left home because Isabelle asked: What is West?
In part, it’s the porous bone of sky bleached and bleached in red sand.
The wind plays its little jokes at the canyon rim,
Hurls itself down like a suicide, then yells for help.
You see it on the other side, laughing at its
Throw-the-voice trick. It laughs so hard it falls
On a thorny bush and lies there cursing.
Call back the echo–it’s lost in the hills.
All its syllables are hiding under rocks
Or slithering into prairie dog holes.
I’m picking up the smashed seeds of cacti
And cramming them into laundry bags with torn feathers,
Burnt fur, and severed scorpion thoraxes.
I do this for Isabelle, back east, and sick,
Who counts on these things to arrive on postal trucks
Rumbling over dark interstates.
She writes: Dear Sister, I have another thought:
Does Hope have an unexplored interior?
I imagine it to be smooth as mother-of-pearl and when you rap on it
With your knuckles, the sound bounces around
That tiled hull like a dry seed.
Find me something like this.
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