Sprawling in Spring’s Trilogy

by Amy Trussell

Art by Arizona Smith

Stratified Island

The blown up ship in the chest 

was what I was trying to reign in,

putting out the galley fire 

and trying to bail out at the same time.


Rain of lit petals in lightning cracks.

It was like a tsunami coming down from the coast-

thinking of the your wedding dress flaming 

up in the house fire in Hazelhurst, Misssippi


Here, from across a continent,

the head gets lost, a disengaged wheel rolling

off the cliff and sputtering into the sea,

the Fool chasing behind with a stick.


What became of sprawling in Spring’s meadow, 

letting the clouds bring on parabola:

like two elephant heads, signaling

with their trunks to a stratified island?

It dissolves in billowing wind 

when I try to describe it to you.


In the delta many years ago 

A bumper sticker on our  collaborator’s door

said Minimalism : It’s The Least You Can Do

and all I can do now is try and cram the image

into a distant sinkhole of the brain


to keep it from exploding after seeing the photo

of your roof and beams disintegrating 

into devil’s orange but still surrounded in an Eden

of lush trees, early on before it all collapsed.


Between storms, swathes of petals bear down

from the limbs and this is what I call in,

swirling round the balls and sockets 

of your future body, future life:

you poet, transplanted to Emily Dickensen 

country, with a windfall apple in hand 


The Soul’s Compass

Why there is a force, almost elemental,

that makes aspects of the body attack itself,

like the heart? 

The pain feels like nitroglycerine 

blowing up a dam with you at the center. 

Lights out and thank god for the precision of surgeons

and the soul’s compass to press on,

like Sally Ride floating far above the earth

and what it meant to be a woman.

Or Bette Davis who said, I survived because 

I was tougher than the rest.

A woman in an emergency can be like a mare in foal

forging through the intensity

to reproduce the next version of herself,

a new mammal exploring terra firma.

Look at the flower called shooting star 

pushing up on the slope 

amid the litter of bottle rockets

that the youth set off at new year

as a pre-emptive celebration

of you going through the big bang 

and coming out ahead of the curve.

Heart strings interlace with  

your family of practical alchemists: 

chopping wood, carrying water, 

picking rocks out of horseshoes,

annointing the feet of the faithful.

Placing your hands on their shoulders,

you learn to walk again.

The Band of Energy

Awaken to hoofbeats on cobblestones

then thunder rolling in, magnetized by the women

in the marketplace playing drums.

Sometimes the dark feels lighter than day,

brightness of music spilling out.

A Native walks down the street 

who was born with a panther at the window

that had drifted in from the woods.

 What does it mean to be out of them?

the reading states your blood needs salting

A folkloric doctor said to drink ocean water

in spring water, one quarter of a teaspoon a day.

You shove what your eyes’ shed into bread you knead,

like mastic tears, to make the loaves medicinal.

Sometimes you must offer up a kidney

stew to the vultures set out to appease them,

saving only a morsel for yourself. 

That’s the spirit-dose for strengthening 

the band of energy surrounding the body 

connected with longevity and power.

At day’s zenith she places a volcanic rock

in the spiral to earth you.

Fatten your cells on the overflowing oil urns

burning in the sky, one in day, one for night.