POETRY March 3, 2023

epigenetics or: hope for easeful adaptation

a sparrow lands on the barbed wire
and drops like a stone
how many generations until
we learn to pick the post instead

i go on living like what else is there
but time to count, ease to hope for

it’s a friday night, apocalypse outside
and the silty river in me rushes
with melted snow—ancestors
kneel, huddle, wring the clothes

past the fence and a few beats
above silence is the sound
of what we call witness

out here, it is nothing
to glimpse loopholes
in time’s passing

two women take all fours
in a field, match the crowns
of their heads

like the slow pose of eden
this kneeling collapses
both yesterday and centuries
after our children are dead

a version of this myth
puts birds on their backs
in another, a mirror is painted black

in yet another, a handless woman
balances a pear on her lips
did you turn to her
or was it a trick?

the husk of illusion
about passing on sings along

what crouches in our bones
we will never truly know

like the sparrow, i am learning
to land on the post

like the post, every year, i look
a little more like the earth

nicole v basta’s poems have found homes in Ploughshares, Waxwing, Crazyhorse, North American Review, and other journals. She is the author of the chapbooks V, winner of The New School’s Annual Contest, and the next field over, out now from Tolsun Books. Find more at nicolevbasta.com.