As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Jennifer Elise Foerster – Poetry

Magdalena’s Fire*

The distance brims
with charcoal-colored plumes.

Lost on a trash-strewn desert highway,
rattlesnakes lick my thorn-torn shadow,
ghost trucks blare just to leave me in their dust
with a walking stick like a forked staff
and two sleek ravens, magnificently black,
oiled in the sun, lofting alongside me.

I will crawl from the blanket
of earth toward the sun,
peeling clouds from my back like locust shells.
I will follow the hawk toward the springs.

Cutting back limbs like umbilical cords,
the snakes cascade their ribbons around me.
I shake a red stick in the grass.

Unsnarling a wasp’s nest from the gnarled branch,
I trace its delicate paper chambers,
lay it down in a hollow.

Some of the story returns:
I am sitting on an oak stump
watching the house burn,
my hair a braided beehive.

Women rise
in hundreds from the ashes.
Their faces darkened windows.
They are carrying plaster tiles of the sky
the color of robin eggs.

They walk the rim
of the cracked open tomb,
stack rib bones into
beams of arced light.

On the twelfth round
they spread like an aster.
Where they had knelt, the grass
springs green, the pages
of their dresses unfurling.


From Leaving Tulsa by Jennifer Elise Foerster (C) 2013 Jennifer Elise Foerster. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press.

Contributor’s Notes:

Jennifer Foerster Head shotJennifer Elise Foerster received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (July 2007) and her BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico (2003). She has received fellowships to attend Soul Mountain Retreat, the Naropa Summer Writing Program, the Idyllwild Summer Poetry Program, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center. From 2008-2010, Jennifer was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. Her poetry has been published in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and other journals, and has been anthologized in New California Writing 2011 and Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas. A book of her poems, Leaving Tulsa, is available from University of Arizona Press. Of German, Dutch, and Muscogee descent, she is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. A daughter of a diplomat, Jennifer grew up internationally, but spent most of each summer with her grandparents in Jenks, Oklahoma. Jennifer now lives in San Francisco, where she works as a freelance writer and grants consultant for non-profits.

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