Crows feed on unmet seed; the gophers track sink holes
all the way to your front door. Unintentional moat--
keeping what out, keeping what in?
The history of greed still draws its lines in this valley.
The West not won. Stolen. Every day
is a truck driving through an ancient forest
knocking down trees that take 400 years to grow.
The land—does it find all of this violence blasé? Been there, still here? Is that how my mother feels
when I call her, angry about the world?
I get it. She’s a survivor. A master of alignment.
Better: the lines she knows than ones she could never draw.
Every day is a truck driving through an emptying field.
Blood is the compost that makes this grass grow so tall.
MICHELLE PEÑALOZA is the author of Former Possessions of the Spanish Empire, winner of the 2018 Hillary Gravendyk National Poetry Prize (Inlandia Books, 2019). She is also the author of two chapbooks, landscape / heartbreak (Two Sylvias, 2015), and Last Night I Dreamt of Volcanoes (Organic Weapon Arts, 2015). She is the recipient of fellowships, awards, and scholarships from the University of Oregon, Kundiman, Hugo House, The Key West Literary Seminar, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, among others. The proud daughter of Filipino immigrants, Michelle was born in the suburbs of Detroit, M I, and raised in Nashville, T N. She now lives in rural Northern California.