Jenifer Cartland – from the 2022 Fall Journal

Fall 2022

On feeling unsure

This morning looking out the window
for our trash cans,
because my mind runs away
to all the small things
on days like these,

my eyes settled on a blue jay —
or perhaps his eyes drew mine —
as he took flight into the birch
to meet his mate.
His boldness
made me aware again of doubt,

and of all things reshaped by boldness,
hope, and the unnamable sigh
uttered when witnessing
a blue jay flutter up a birch
to meet another.

Season change

After months of being sequestered
in our claustrophobic hovel,
where odors stale and despondent
in small areas under the stove
and along the seams of the hallway,
the April air comes tonight –
it sweeps through, at long last!
Even memories stir that once were stuck
in the corners of our closets or embedded
in the rust around the window frame.
Yes, the spring air swims all around us,
baptizes us with its white linen
waving in the sun.


Trees don’t transpire much at night.
It is then that their internal resources,
overworked by sunlight,
find a slower pace.

They pause,
bend over their accounts,
reflect on the day
and perform
other such scholarly work
as time permits
or as the moon brings to muse.

And so I turn over
the leaf of my journal
and shed further
all transactions of daytime —
of thinking for others,
of grasping at straws,
of carrying water —

and instead share my soul-work
with the moon
and all its varied students,
as they do with me.

A storm rolls through

Today, the weather — the raucous tree branches,
the sun slipping behind the clouds —
knit into a rhythm.

All were one,
a constant rolling motion
that was just you breathing

and me breathing
and the lake breathing
and the air and the worms

and the cars rushing along the roads
and the sand dunes —
all breathing —

in turn, together,
sharing, alternating,
like yarn in a sweater    
that pulls in different directions
but can only move as a single creature.
Letting go

of my one tender thread,
I became part, in an instant
and for once,
of the great garment of earth.