Flights of the Harvest-Mare
Linda Bierds’ Flights of the Harvest-Mare, first published in 1985, is a first collection unmarred by self-involvement and sentimentality. Her poetry reflects the beautiful and often disturbing landscape of the West, where hope sometimes emerges from brutal occurrences. Written with an almost hallucinatory perception, Bierds’ poetry seems an acknowledgement of our own fleeting comprehension of the human spirit and the forces that shape it. “What Bierds releases is momentarily certain,” writes Pamela Stewart in the introduction, “which is as certain as one can truly be.”
The full text of Linda Bierds’s Flights of the Harvest Mare is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
I’ve seen it drive straw straight through a fence post—
sure as a needle in your arm—the straws all erect
and rooted in the wood like quills.
Think of teeth being drilled, that enamel and blood
burning circles inside your cheek. That’s like the fury.
Only now it’s quail and axles, the northeast bank
of the Cedar River, every third cottonwood.
It’s with you all morning. Something wet in the air.
Sounds coming in at a slant, like stones
clapped under water. And pigs, slow to the trough.
One may rub against your leg, you turn with a kick
and there it is, lurching down from a storm cloud:
the shaft pulses toward you across the fields
like a magician’s finger.
You say goodbye to it all then, in a flash over
your shoulder, with the weathervane so still
it seems painted on the sky.
The last time, I walked a fresh path toward the river.
Near the edge of a field I found our mare, pierced
through the side by the head of her six-week foal.
Her ribs, her great folds of shining skin
closed over the skull. I watched them forever it seemed:
eight legs, two necks, one astonished head curved
back in a little rut of hail. And across the river
slim as a road, a handful of thrushes set down
in an oak tree, like a flurry of leaves
drawn back again.
Copyright © 1979 by Linda Bierds
Linda Bierds lives in Seattle where she teaches in the writing program at the University of Washington. Among her more recent books are The Profile Makers, The Ghost Trio, Heart and Perimeter, and The Stillness, the Dancing.