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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 10, 2017.
About this Poem 
“This poem is about blight but it’s about more than blight, and then it’s not about blight. It’s part of my lexical strategy. I’m pretty sure the strategy—along with the survival upon which it is predicated—is being encoded by the living and dying world.”
—Joan Naviyuk Kane
 

Gray Eraser

There is no one to scold,
even when the heavens deem
 
the most abject of failures
receptive to correction.
 
Likewise in cackleless sleep,
the magpies remain tucked away.
 
A mother can no longer dismiss
her child as a spectacular waste
 
of an education. Even the wind
stills its sighs in the dry and bare
 
branches of the nearby white
spruce damaged by Lirula blight.
 
Meanwhile, a pearl-green fox
retracts its untrussed tail
 
through an eastward sky
thick with unfamiliar stars.
 
If I wake missing the cold,
fresh sound of new snow,
 
I may still miss the kinds of places
that scar me and complete
 
my sorrow. Late at night,
the birches must let their leaves
 
pitch and imbricate the floor
of what is left of the woods
 
near what is left of me.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Joan Naviyuk Kane. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 10, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Joan Naviyuk Kane. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 10, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Joan Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of Milk Black Carbon (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017). She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

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“I remember the birds ever so many of them when I hunted with the weapons of a child. The water was covered in their numbers, red as the flowers of summer on the mountain. The red phalarope were our prey of choice, there were so many. Today, these birds return yearly, but now only a few return home in spring to

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The enemy misled that missed the island in the fog,
I believe in one or the other, but both exist now
        to confuse me. Dark from dark.

Snow from snow. I believe in one—

Craggy boundary, knife blade at the throat’s slight swell.

From time to time the sound of voices

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I let him do what he will to me—
we are traveling into the waves
and the ocean is torn by swells.

I am cautious. The moon,
it can barely be sensed,
it cannot be helped.

I learned something, I am learning.
I am untangling a rope.
I am caught by a breaking wave.

The