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Debra Marquart is a Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University and Iowa’s Poet Laureate. She is the Senior Editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment. A memoirist, poet, and performing musician, Marquart is the author of six books including an environmental memoir of place, The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere and a collection of poems, Small Buried Things: Poems. Marquart’s short story collection, The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories drew on her experiences as a former road musician. A singer/songwriter, she continues to perform solo and with her jazz-poetry performance project, The Bone People, with whom she has recorded two CDs. Marquart teaches in ISU’s interdisciplinary MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment and in the Stonecoast Low-Residency MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. Her next two books, Gratitude with Dogs Under Stars: New & Collected Poems and The Night We Landed on the Moon: Essays of Exile & Belonging, are forthcoming in 2021.
For more of Deb Marquart’s work:
Pulled from sleep I watch the dark outlines
of deer nuzzle soft ground beneath my spruce
and accept we will not have crocuses this spring
where I knelt and nestled bulbs three inches deep,
fleshy corms encased in onion skin tunics,
ovaries turned up, adventitious roots pressed
down. All winter, I dreamt their prayerful hands
royal purple and lavender, cresting cold ground.
We’ve lost so many this year, my dearest friend
among them, her fading a grievance I cannot
reconcile, the forfeiture that living on requires.
Spring will arrive, tulips trumpeting orange
and red news. Daffodils will rise and spread
their frilly white and yellow skirts. I don’t
begrudge the deer who ate the bulbs, a tithe
all nature extracts. Crocuses grow in their bellies
now, the stigmata of saffron crimsons their blood
just as the heathered violet of my friend’s voice
echoes on in me like sweet amaranth, an undying
flower that blooms everlasting, and the deer
will be my family now.
—for Barbara Crow
I can’t say I’m unhappy to be
alive this spring morning.
Windows open for
this fresh wind; birds
at it for hours, are
starting to tire. A cat is
limping into bushes—
who knows what he’s been
up to. Over the road,
a man and his wife
return from roller-blading,
their baby, in a stroller, sailing
ahead of them like a figure-head
on a sloop.
Earlier, driving west,
I swerved to avoid
a gopher, flattened and
bloody in the middle
of the road, another gopher
running to and fro.
I know a man, who,
when we finds something
dead on the road,
stops, picks it up,
to the earth and
“Going on,” published in Going On (Dakotah Territory Press, 2005). Used with permission from Dakotah Territory Press.