the mountain lion’s ephemeral midnight
I came back for your people, too. The
way your craggy close-knit hills and small
skies have bred and brought obstinacy,
eccentricity, and goodness. Young hippies
and old farmers. Old hippies and young
farmers. The flinty eyes of the intrepid
and the opaque eyes of the survivors and
the breezy eyes of the believers.
Because, like all good lovers, it’s the
complicated ones that stick. I’m not after what’s pretty or clear or easy; it’s the
strange and the secret, the pockmarked
reverberations of the past, that keep me
up at night, that make the daytime sing.
So, like I said, I came back, and stitched
my life into your accommodating skin.
I planted seeds in your rock-studded,
fertile earth and birthed a child. I feed her
on your clear, spring water and ripe black-berries; I teach her the names of trees and
the names of the dead. I teach her how to
piss by the side of the road and how to tap
a maple and how to catch a snowflake on
Because it’s not a slight thing, to know
you like this. To know all the dappled contradictions of your borderland: the textures of old and new, of light and dark. It’s
a kind of knowing that follows us wherever we go. That tells us to look below
the surface, to sni= around, and to listen.
That teaches us to be unafraid of what’s
eccentric or broken or wild. And maybe,
if we’re lucky, teaches us to care.
Joanna E. S. Campbell
North Fork of the
Flathead River, Montana
I’VE BEEN WORKING at RBM Lumber in Columbia Falls, Montana, for five
days, and I’ve made an amazing discovery: I’m in love with grade 2 and 3 lumber.
I am in love with wormholes, embedded
bullets, rot. As I guide the imperfect wood
into the press, I wonder if a sawyer at a
THE TEMPERATURE rarely drops below freezing in Davis, California, but winter settles in in the form
of rain and tule fog. Nearly as transformative as the first fallen snow in parts
north, tule fog makes new landscapes
out of familiar terrain. Like a frosted
glass wall at the edge of every farm
field, the thick ground fog distorts as
well as limits visibility, turning wind-curled brush into coyotes and hiding
even the best-lit oncoming cars.
Tule fog gets its name from a tall
grass indigenous to the river delta,
where the waters of the Sacramento
and San Joaquin commingle. Tules
grow in the wetlands throughout Cali-
fornia’s Central Valley, and on calm,
clear winter nights, the humid air
just above the ground cools quickly,
condensing water vapor into a kind of
cloud. On fogged-in mornings, dawn
breaks to a white cloak so thick that in
some pockets it’s tough to see across