A PLANT FOR GHOSTS TO EAT
In the north lands of the Anishinaabeg,
pony tail, Indian pipe, balsam and spruce,
the clean scent of Christmas tree,
lyme disease and the devil horsefly,
reindeer antlered lichen and rock moss,
trees leaning into the sky and the sky
opening its wings to let them come.
Here comes jealous wind and jealous cloud.
Together they slip the tops to snag clean.
In this land of Gichi-manidoo,
turtle rock, great bear, lynx and fox.
In this land of deer and moose,
bog and sundew, swamp and grass.
The trees remain and the sand and the water,
trails gutters full of leaf and limb.
*Indian pipe also called: uniflora, also known as the Ghost Plant
In a little while we will no longer have to wear snow clothes,
we will not have to wipe salt from our shoes,
our blood will thaw before reaching our fingertips.
But now there are the cars you can no longer see,
the wind another layer of clothing,
fallen leaves another covering, my thickening blood.
How do you not know this?
Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, After Hours, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review and others. In addition, he has eight poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005).
Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments with his students, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators and the State of Illinois Title 1 Convention, and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.