Lord, there are creatures under my skirt.
Butterflies, of course. Their fluttering, whorled wings
familiar and fickle and fragile. And bright-eyed rabbits,
fear striking them into a trembling stillness and flight.
The slugs I love and their trails of slime.
I study the way one nibbles another
and a pair will climb above the forest floor
to hang from a branch on a rope of mucus.
Before they drop back to the ground, there is this
unbound departure from life as they know it:
both male, both female, both unfold translucent glowing
sexes and weave them into the flaring petals of a rose.
I’m beginning to know the snakes too, smelling like earth
and flicking forked tongues on my thighs, but Lord
I must be a terrible keeper—other creatures cluster
under my skirt too and I don’t even know their names.
Unwritten taxonomies live in my dark. Lord,
I need to know how shall I love them hidden and crooked?
They bite with daggered teeth or they have no teeth.
They look like dragons and feel like clouds or tentacles
or tusks. They swim. They fly. They sit still as a rock.
I wear gloves and boots and watch as they starve.
Sierra Golden received her MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Winner of the 2015 Rane Arroyo Chapbook Prize, Golden's work appears in literary journals such as Prairie Schooner, Permafrost, and Ploughshares. She has also been awarded residencies by Hedgebrook, the Island Institute, and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Although she calls Washington State home, Golden has spent many summers in Alaska, working as a commercial fisherman. She now works in communications at Casa Latina and was a 2015-2016 Made at Hugo House Fellow.