Landscape Beginning with a Line from Marianne Moore

You remember the Israelites who said, “If
only we had died in Egypt, or even here
in the wilderness!” They were not
standing on the bike path by the Santa Fe
River, as I am, bounded by lizards,
prairie dogs batting at thin leaves
of growth like little punching bags
before gallantly swallowing each whole.
They run nearly parallel to the soil,
unaffected, it seems, by the sun,
the stubbornness of the old bicycle and
its slippery chain. A luxury to sit in
the sweaty foam seat of my own choices,
in which no one else is required to pool.
I have just come south from a summer
in which people were forever vanishing
into and despite the woods holding tight
around the city, finding their own portals
out of this time. There’s no purpose in
temperance, I said to myself, evenings
at the desk supporting my habitual
glass of red. Be scorched or be gone.
I rode the bicycle in the summer
afternoons with no hat, a radical hoping
to reveal my root. The prairie dogs
and I shared no concern for the coyotes
(unrevealed but promised close at hand),
the little ants in their skyscraping
humps, ample amongst the low brush,
prickly and broad. Like them, I prefer
to complain behind closed doors.
I had not come all that far, just beyond
the evenly-housed streets and across
the river bridges. I have not starved
for a little tendril of my own.

*

Kate Partridge is the author of the poetry collection Ends of the Earth (University of Alaska Press, 2017), and her poems have appeared in FIELD, Yale Review, Pleiades, Blackbird, Colorado Review, and other journals. She received her MFA from George Mason University, she is currently a doctoral fellow in creative writing and literature at the University of Southern California.  

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