Nomi Stone


Wild garlic greens
the path to the sea.
You will turn it

into pesto in jars,
you’ll fry the flowers,
you’ll fold it in

cornbread like
the character in your story.
This island is called

Mull, and it is real. You
are Rose, and there
is a sea here, mists, rocks, love.


Like tiny saucers, limpets suck the rock. Winkles eye-blink in pools. If we chop off
the gut-sack, we could eat them whole. I was sad for two years, no, five.


When I’m sad, I forget to eat,
all clavicle and blade. It’s sudden!
Deer stew, plums, frangipani,
jam, jam, then skin the orange
what sweetness, this sweetness,
the rain has stopped
we can go in the sun.


At the pub, we read the marine biologists the poem about the 52-hertz whale,
that fourteen-part letter to that one whale that calls at a pitch unlike any other whale.
A note just higher than the lowest note of a tuba. Is it more similar to a blue whale or a
fin whale, they wonder. Your friend Conor plays me a recording of another kind of
whale, a tunnel through the water. But that whale wouldn’t hear our whale.


A hydrophone catalogued
sounds unintelligible on this earth:
a submarine volcano, whistling
as it pillows the dark with lava;
the BLOOP of an icequake;
the singing Pharoah in Luxor,
who guarded the dead. An earthquake
split the god in half, the quartzite
crumbling from the waist up.
The statue’s pelvis would cry
at dawn, reported Pliny. Scientists
told of the dew glimmering into air,
the rising temperatures.


We visit the zoologist’s skulls, wild boar and the hyena’s crushing mandibles, where
the muscles were. Here’s a snake in a jar, the jaw and the teeth. He tells of a kind of
beetle that flies furiously into the sunlight, where it is just as likely to be killed
as to find another.


On the tip
of your island,
both your
grandfather’s cairn
& the bed where you
were made. Sun-drops
across sky and sea
are cut with a blade.
I don’t know if I can keep you.
And still.


This poem is about hunger and sadness, about the surprise of wild garlic—there is so
much when there was nothing there before! We cannot carry it we cannot carry it—
lie down in it. Tell me again how it happened, how one day the earth became green.



Giving Tree: A Love Letter to My Sister

When we were teenagers, Lia, we stood
in front of the mirror, dividing

our 2 selves: your small head big teeth my
big head small teeth who

has bigger boobs? The mirror blurs.
Eve is not mine

but she is and I
cry at the end of the story when the tree gives

the child everything
she has:

first, her fruit, skin, flesh,
core, then her whole

body, which turns into a boat
then enters the world



Note: The poem about the 52 hertz whale mentioned is Matthew Olzmann's

Nomi Stone is a poet and an anthropologist. Her second collection of poems, Kill Class is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2019. Winner of a Pushcart Prize, Stone’s poems appear recently or will soon in POETRY, American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Academy of American Poets’ “Poem-a-Day” series, Bettering American Poetry 2017, The Best American Poetry 2016, Tin House, New England Review, and elsewhere. Kill Class is based on two years of fieldwork she conducted within war trainings in mock Middle Eastern villages erected by the US military across America. Stone has an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College and teaches anthropology at Princeton University.