Jenifer Cartland

2022 Spring Journal

On healing and revolution

Gazing up this terrible mountain,
you say, love is not enough,
though when I add together
everything else
and stack it high above my head,
everything else is not enough either.
So I return to love,
and it nudges me
back to the task of gathering
everything I can find –
a pickax, courage, fellow travelers –
not to stack and measure,
but to begin our ascent regardless.

Sacred ground

Each square, each blessed patch,
lies between gray streets,
cars waiting for the light.

We clear one patch at a time,
reveal black dirt,
long starved of tending,

until we reach the twisted undergrowth
from a clump of seven aspens
not seen before
among the old tires, invasive vines.

Misshapen, they appear as Triassic hydrangea might,
rising giant from center — up, out, lop-headed.

Electrical poles
have long since withdraw behind aspen leaves,
to affirm fellowship
between this life and the next.

Thus all becomes a shrine
that attests our pilgrimage.

Thus, together, we clear on,
pay our soft penance
by hacking and pulling,
piling, discarding

for all our gray roads,
jumbling trucks,
impatient drivers,
overworn sky.

Setting Buddhista in our garden

I will buy for you
a cedar box, red,

fragrant when rain falls,
broad and steady,

and plant it
near the crocuses and the daffodils

that were tossed among fresh sprouts
of day lilies, and in time,

that will sleep under the vigils
of June’s deep clematis

and our red-then-green-
then-red-again maple.

And upon it
you will wait and pray,

your flowered necklace
never wilting, your hennaed hand

forgiving each day
its storms, its whips

of wind, its white cold,
its dying, its deformities,

its birthing, its longing
that swirls on end around you.

Jenifer Cartland’s poems appear in The Wayfarer (Pushcart Prize nominee), Tipton Poetry Journal, Ribbons, NatureWriting and on her blog ( A group of poems inspired by her childhood experiences have been gathered into a self-published collection, Poems from Frenchtown. She is a native of Chicago and now lives in Michigan. 

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