Bruno sits on a washing machine as though its engine will get him out
of the country, the county, his head. The darkness outside the plate
glass window suggests that California has burned to black
while the prairies are overrun with pioneer wives out of time
carrying rifles. Bruno can sense that the pelted animals
are in danger. He can feel from his vibrating perch a strange tug
of land rolling down a rock face, back into the ash
from which it sprung. The women in the prairies
have been alone too long and they are cold. Their men
have been lost to the wilderness and return
having killed with cruelty. Bruno tries to imagine the death
that floats in the air out there in the parking lot, buried
by bulldozers and tar. In the arms of banished ghosts
the women driven mad by loneliness and the constant lack of certainty
are carried like abandoned orphans back into the cliff-side convents
of the old world where people are given brooms to sweep
their conquests out of their minds.


Erica Ehrenberg’s poems have appeared in Slate, The New Republic, Octopus, Jubilat, The St. Ann’s Review, and Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets series. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and a writer-in-residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She teaches at Fordham University and for the Stanford Online Writer’s Studio, and has recently given talks at the Storm King Sculpture Center on poetry and sculpture.

Feature image by Alison Schulnik, Girl with Animal, 2008. Courtesy Mark Moore Gallery

Click on the image to enlarge.

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