Arabilis by Leah Silvieus

This book is a girl holding a gun in the back country of the American northwest. It’s tough and beautiful, full of religion and reverence, and a kid-level of violence. Silvieus’ voice is strong. The language and images are clean. The poems love life and nature, even in its violence and death. I really enjoyed getting lost in this book. Buy here.

From “Naturalization”

When I came to this country, I was reborn / with a pistol in my palm. / They called me a natural: / That bullseye, gorgeous!

From “On the Feast of Epiphany”

. . . As children here, // our mothers coaxed our tongues into prayers / for mild winters and taught us to cull from them deliverance: // deer strung cruciform from shed rafters, cold blood cherries / filling the cellar. We learned to play dead, knotting our hands // behind our necks to protect from grizzlies, to chisel / breath-space in avalanche and trail the North Star home. // Tonight, my brother studies clouds, tells me / the storm will break next morning. Once, I too could divine // first snow, but tonight, the heavens refuse me. The firmament / rolls over, dreaming of other prophets.

From “Field Elegy”

. . . Even though I know the suffering is over, / I want to shut its round black eye, now dulling // as it stares up through the soil—I want to make it / look as if it were sleeping and not dead // —as if such a thing were a mercy / to this fawn and not to me, now alone // in this field and bleating.