“West / Sky” by Autumn McClintock

Even Pleiades, the merry bunch, we name

from this camp in the black desert.


We travel like Earth, in a tilt,

spiraling toward rescue. Our hair is cut


for the first time, we have eaten

from our own fire, and the wheat


of southern Washington with bent fingers

rustles, this way. When we don’t go,


it’s still golden. But the stars, yes,

we learn Cygnus, Andromeda, Draco:


all we’ve never seen is glory, and we are new.

Oh woman chained to a rock, oh swan.


Based on a trip I took some years ago, West/Sky celebrates breaking down the self by moving outside the bounds of one’s known world. A kind of ecstatic risk taking, even if the risks could be categorized as mundane (e.g. learning the constellations).


Autumn McClintock lives in Philadelphia, works at the public library, and serves on the City’s Poet Laureate Selection Committee. Her first chapbook, After the Creek, was published in 2016. Poems of hers have recently appeared in Poetry Daily, Green Mountains Review, Drunken Boat, RHINO, Boxcar Poetry Review, and others. She is a staff reader for Ploughshares.





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