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And what if you have nothing?

I pick up a stick. Yes, that’s always first.

And next? I see what I can see around me.

Find the sun or moon. Find high ground.

Find north by where the moss grows.

Yes. Now close your eyes. Find them.

The sun’s behind. I can feel it

on my neck. High ground’s to my right.

North’s ahead. Yes. And the wind?

The wind’s west. It cools my left temple.

Yes. And next? If I can bug out

I bug out. Otherwise I go high

and dig a foxhole and tie something bright

above me. You forget something.

Right—first I cut my name in the dirt,

then I go high. Yes. And next?

I walk a loop with my bright thing in sight.

If I find a better stick I switch for it.

Yes. And if you need to cry?

I crawl inside my foxhole and cry.

And what do you tell yourself as you cry?

Someone’s coming. Yes. And what if

no one comes? Each hour I call

in all directions. I listen. Yes.

And what do you listen for?

Sounds that shouldn’t be there. Yes.

Sounds that should be there but aren’t.

Yes. And what have you heard

since we started? A bird. Yes. Another bird

far away. Yes. A gust in the trees.

Yes. Your voice, if your voice counts.

Yes, my voice counts.

from Poetry Northwest 12.1 Summer & Fall 2017More by Anders Carlson-Wee from the library

Copyright © Anders Carlson-Wee
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

Published in Anders Carlson-Wee Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.