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Jeanne Julian

The Burrowers Recall Life A.G.*

Windows instead of hatchways—before the sun up and melted our glass.

We ate crunch and color, and if you didn’t want a ceiling, you didn’t have to have one.

Sometimes I caress the carpet and pretend it’s growing. Like moss. Or bark. Or those stems

crowned with lace, roadside. Named for a monarch who united two countries. I forget who and which.

When there were monarchs—queens and butterflies—and countries. And weathered red barns. 

When weather was—not benign, exactly, but gradual. Like shorelines. Marsh or dunes. Remember?

Before the reefless sea encroached. And so much fresh water we could waste it on our skins.

Frolic, wetly! Now we wander our dim warren, guide-ropes at hand, wending from

and to our hollowed-out homes. Oh, and remember No justice, No peace?—that jingle we’d chant

before former higher-ups made their deals with the devil? His hell ascended. We dug down.


*Above Ground

Of Bone and Brain



That weird scream, mine. Still hanging

there, in my reruns of the rain fall.

Like a hat I didn’t recognize,

left for someone else to claim.


Over seven prior decades, no bone

ever dared betray me. In no tumbles

from bikes, no skating mishaps,

no car crashes. Not one broke


its promise to uphold my tender

innards and fragile wrapper.

Then: what a bumbling bone-

head move, a slip, a slide


on slick wet grass and in a snap

the left strut angles, fissures, cracks

like a hidden wishbone. Lower leg

useless, loose as if dangling from a nail.



Now knee flesh is stitched,

a metal plate holds fracture

like Thanksgiving leftovers,

and the mind, over the matter


of such wrack and gimp,

lacks its get-up-and-go too.

It limps along blind alleys, shuffles

its fun house of cards, not yet playing


with a full deck of neural tarot to signify,

weigh, meanings, past and future.

The Tower. The Hermit. The Chariot?

No Weight Bearing—that, at least, is clear.



Weeks of weakness my burden,

splintered, stabbed, stitched, stiff,

lurching, I bear waiting but find

I can’t Atlas words or the world.


Idling by the bed, the wheelchair.

I’ve learned to propel, steer it,

gripping the edge of countertops

the way I clung to the edge


of the pool when learning to swim.

Choking on swallowed mistakes

until I surfaced to gulp air anew

and arms churned and finally kicks


kicked in, and flailing became strokes

necessary to stay afloat enough to think,

to think if I just keep going I might,

thankfully, not forever flounder, sink.


Backyard Fox


These days when dead birds,

strange storms, glacier melt

work to leave her blind

to all that’s bright, watching

the fox den from her window

offers a glimpse of hope.


Where once slopes held

old growth—birch, oak,

red spruce, white pine—

now stand fine homes

like hers, where she

raised her kids, tried

to teach them to be kind.


The fox kits pounce, roll,

and flit through one last

plot of trees.

They don’t care

when she stands near

to watch them romp

or learn to tear at meat.


At times, she thinks

she should stomp

or clap or scream

to help them share

the fear she knows

could save them,

save this world. 


Jeanne Julian is author of Like the O in Hope and two chapbooks. Her poems are in Kakalak, Panoply, RavensPerch, Ocotillo Review and elsewhere, and have won awards from Reed Magazine, Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, and Maine Poets’ Society. She reviews books for The Main Street Rag.


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