Lorine Niedecker





Wintergreen Ridge

Where the arrow
         of the road signs
                 lead us:

Life is natural
         in the evolution
                of matter

Nothing supra-rock
        about it
                simply

butterflies
        are quicker
                than rock

Man 
        lives hard
                on this stone perch

by sea
       imagines
               durable works

in creation here
        as in the center
               of the world

let’s say
        of art 
              We climb

the limestone cliffs
        my skirt dragging
               an inch below

the knee 
        the style before 
               the last

the last the least
         to see 
              Norway

or “half of Sussex
         and almost all
              of Surrey”

Crete perhaps
         and further:
             “Every creature

better alive
        than dead.
              men and moose

and pine trees”
       We are gawks
              lusting

after wild orchids
       Wait! What’s this? —
             sign:

Flowers
        loveliest
            where they grow

Love them enjoy them
        and leave them so
            Let’s go!

Evolution’s wild ones
        saved
            continuous life

through change
       from Time Began
            Northland’s
unpainted barns
       fish and boats
            now this —

flowering ridge
       the second one back
            from the lighthouse

Who saved it? —
       Women
            of good wild stock

Stood stolid
        before machines
           They stopped bulldozers

cold
        We want it for all time
           they said

and here it is —
        horsetails
          club mosses

stayed alive
        after dinosaurs
          died

Found:
       laurel in muskeg
          Linnaeus’s twinflower

Andromeda
       Cisandra of the bog
           pearl flowered

Lady’s tresses
       insect-eating
          pitcher plant

Bedeviled little Drosera
       of the sundews
          deadly

in sphagnum moss
       sticks out its sticky
          (Darwin tested)

tentacled leaf
       towards a fly
           half an inch away

engulfs it
       Just the touch
          of a gnat on a filament

stimulates leaf-plasma
       secretes a sticky
          clear liquid

the better to eat you
       my dear
          digest cartilage

and tooth enamel
        (DHL spoke of blood
          in a green growing thing

in Italy was it?)
       They do it with glue
          these plants

Lady’ Slipper’s glue
       and electric threads
          smack the sweets-seeker

on the head
      with pollinia
          The bee

befuddled
     the door behind him
          closed he must

go out the rear
     the load on him 
         for the next

flower
     Women saved
        a pretty thing: Truth:

“a good to the heart” 
     It all comes down
        to the family

“We have a lovely
     finite parentage
        mineral

vegetable
     animal”
        Nearby dark wood —

I suddenly heard
     the cry
        my mother’s

where the light
     pissed past
        the pistillate cone

how she loved
     closed gentians
        she herself

so closed
     and in this to us peace
        the stabbing

pen
     friend did it
        close to the heart

pierced the woods
     red
        (autumn?)

Sometimes it’s a pleasure
     to grieve
        or dump

the leaves most brilliant
     as do trees
        when they’ve no need

of an overload
     of cellulose
        for a cool while

Nobody, nothing
     ever gave me
        greater thing

than time
     unless light
        and silence

which if intense
     makes sound
        Unaffected

by man
     thin to nothing lichens
        grind with their acid

granite to sand
     These may survive
        the grand blow-up

the bomb
     When visited
        by the poet

From Newcastle on Tyne
     I neglected to ask
        what wild plants

have you there
     how dark
        how inconsiderate

of me
     Well I see at this point
        no pelting of police

with flowers
     no uprooted gaywings
        bishop’s cup

white bunchberry
     under aspens
        pipsissewa

(wintergreen)
     grass of parnassus
        See beyond —

ferns
     algae
        water lilies

Scent
     the simple
        the perfect

order
     of that flower
        water lily

I see no space-rocket
     launched here
        no mind-changing

acids eaten
     one sort manufactured
        as easily as gin

in a bathtub
     Do feel however
        in liver and head

as we drive
     towards cities
        the change

in church architecture —
     now it’s either a hood
        for a roof

pulled down to the ground
     and below
        or a factory-long body

crawled out from a rise
     of black dinosaur-necked
        blower-beaked

smokestack-
     steeple
        Murder in the Cathedral’s

proportions
     Do we go to church
        No use

discussing heaven 
     HJ’s father long ago
        pronounced human affairs

gone to hell
     Great God —
         what men desire! —

the scientist: a full set
     of fishes
        the desire to know

Another: to talk beat
     act cool
        release    la’go

So far out of flowers
     human parts found
        wrapped in newspaper

left at the church
     near College Avenue
        More news: the war

which “cannot be stopped”
     ragweed pollen
        sneezeweed

whose other name
     Ambrosia
        goes for a community

Ahead — home town
     second shift steamfitter
        ran arms out

as tho to fly
     dived to concrete
        from loading dock

lost his head
     Pigeons
        (I miss the gulls)

mourn the loss
     of people
        no wild bird does

It rained
     mud squash
        willow leaves

in the eaves
     Old sunflower
        you bowed

to no one
     but Great Storm
        of Equinox



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spoken = Shelley Lynn Johnson