Issue > Poetry
Emily Van Kley

Emily Van Kley

Emily Van Kley’s collection, The Cold and the Rust (Persea, 2018) was awarded the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. Also the recipient of the Iowa Review Award, the Florida Review Editor’s Award, and the Loraine Williams Poetry Prize, Emily has received a fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. She currently lives with her partner in Olympia, Washington, where she also teaches and performs aerial acrobatics.


I stood inside the tree
which had survived burning.

Its sapwood was a soft lip
below the bark. Its heartwood

had been kept dead
as a porch column at the center,

so when the fire
came there would be

something to sacrifice.
Flames entered, smothered,

left a periphery
impertinent with life.


Below any grove, a sunk
thicket of clasp and microbe.  

Site of negotiations.
Shared root cellar stocked

with sunlight's drunk-down
syrup, fungus-mined

minerals threaded
from thorax, litter, stone.


Elsewhere the mantis
hatches 1,000 young,

snacks on the proximate
and birth-stunned.

Procreation: so nutritious.
Life: it takes and it gives.

Each night a velvet painting
of curtains closing

and no one ever
becomes the curtain.

The frangipani for a moment
overrun with tiny

exaggerated elbows,
ambulant spores that disperse

in all the ways
nature intends.


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