Pamela Alexander

from Inland


Next time you walk by my place
in your bearcoat and mooseboots,
your hair all sticks and leaves
like an ospreyís nest on a piling,
the next time you walk across my shadow
with those swamp-stumping galoshes
below that grizzly coat and your own whiskers
that look rumpled as if somethingís
been in them already this morning
mussing and growling and kissing,
the next time you pole the raft of you downriver
down River Street past my place
you could say hello, you canoe-footed fur-faced
musk ox, pockets full of cheese and acorns
and live fish and four-headed winds and sky, hello
is what human beings say when they meet each other
--if you canít say hello like a human donít
come down this street again and when you do donít
bring that she-bear and if you do Iíll know
even if Iím not on the steps putting my shadow
down like a welcome mat, Iíll know.


A roof over
three squares.
Warmth to wear,
something to burn

in winter. Water
music: sheets
of rain hung out
to dry. Time, or

the habits of light.
A road that thins
in hills. Hills.
Once an image

sufficed; now I see
we must speak.

Selected Works

Slow Fire
Slow Fire's poems are both deeply human and attuned to the earth itself.
Witty and profoundly serious, Inland looks at human life and wildlife with scrupulously accurate imagery.
Commonwealth of Wings: An Ornithological Biography
Combining the best of poetry, nature writing, and biography, Pamela Alexander in her book-length poem brings to life John James Audubon and a world not yet aware of nature's limits.
Navigable Waterways
Selected by James Merrill for the prestigious Yale Younger Poet series, this book is unfortunately out of print.

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