I found an app that allows my texts
to alert me through birdsong,
another noble attempt
to combine techno
Someday, my monk friend says,
chips in the brain
will queue us to breathe mindfully,
stimulate the oceanic,
religious part of our brain.
One nudge from the chip
and our brain will have no choice
but to perceive the self
as interwoven with everything.
At nine, after my father was killed,
I fled to the woods
when my mother became all beak and bone,
the fluted song of the hermit thrush
its toppling cascade of liquid ribbons,
soothing me as nothing else could.
Back from my walks,
my brothers sniffed me out,
sitting glum inside our dark house
their bowls of stewed rage steaming.
Wanting to hurt me as much as they were hurt by his death,
they lunged at the source of my solace,
told me of the true violent purpose of birdsong,
to fend off other males and mark their territory.
That was not the first time they took the sacred,
pinned it like a desiccated frog
in Darwin’s cold lab. Even now they would tell me
a scan of my brain back then
would simply have shown
what neurotheologists call
“a photograph of God” —
a deep azure, (like an Indigo Bunting?),
glowing on the left side of my cerebrum.
So when my iphone chirps a red winged blackbird,
I’m saddened when it zaps me into fight or flight,
a flux of electrons along neurons
screaming all the shit I have to do.
In the meantime, I watch my children
peck at their screens with a hunger
that scares me.
Hush, I tell myself.
You can’t go home again,
and it’s no use longing for the past.
Be patient, my monk friend says,
as he gently pats my iphone as if it were alive,
over time, eventually God learns how to nest
A brief respite from the usual perceptual divides:
after chemo i ski through the vermont woods in another climate change storm
Pumped with steroids,
eyes rimmed pink, mouth sores raw,
I scuttle through the ragged birch,
pale, bald, lean and hunched.
Wind writhes, arches its back, whips its tail and leaves,
branches crack and moan.
I ski deeper into the wild white roaring
til I’m not sure I’m human anymore, blind
with the whirling undertow of snow,
more a coagulation of dying things,
so I gladly let my sheddings be taken by the wind,
its giant swirling paw batting me about
til I’m dizzy with a mixing and merging,
giddy with a blurring
of the usual divides,
the bulky ones the ego guards like a bone,
the ones that lift weights each day,
Anthropocene thugs of truth, that hold our species in first place
and fuck up the rest of the planet.
Sometimes I don’t want to ski home
though it’s filled with such good people.
Meanwhile the worried
wonder when I’ll return,
so I turn around, dutifully,
because I don’t want to disappoint.
On the couch
we drink warm milk,
wincing as the storm pummels our house,
apocalyptic, someone says,
yes, I say, numbly,
just so I can keep on thinking
how all my life I’ve wanted to disperse
long enough for the moon or the owl
to mistake my body for a field,
and though we think our minds are sealed in skulls
the hair on our arms is the first to sense
an oncoming storm.
Adrie Kusserow is author of Hunting Down the Monk and REFUGE (BOA EDITIONS. Her poems have been published in Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, The Kenyon Review, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and elsewhere.