by Jennifer Bullis
Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1561.
I’m smiling right out of my face;
whether it’s the sunset or the hummingbirds,
I can’t be sure. I’m exhausted by springtime
and its pattern of losses. A curious thing, that grief
is insufficient to purge pain. But I won’t let that stop me
from telling you the truth about these yellow blossoms
hurling their tiny lemons at my nose.
The Oregon Grape, I insist, was named by an explorer
who did his best not to judge a plant strictly by its fruit.
Except you already know that. When you mash the purple berries
of the Oregon Grape, you get a pulp so sour
it’ll curdle your botany. That’s no way to close the body’s last door,
as though nudging it shut with the trailed toe of a boot.
Meanwhile, sailboats spread a slow glaze onto the bay.
The continent unfolds under a steady hoof.
The sun brightens near the horizon, sort of like morning.
Sort of like this wasn’t happening at all.
JENNIFER BULLIS is author of the chapbook Impossible Lessons (MoonPath Press). Originally from Reno, she earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of California-Davis and taught community-college composition and literature in Bellingham for 14 years. Her poems and essays appear in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Water~Stone Review, Terrain, Tahoma, and Nasty Women Poets. She is recipient of an Honorable Mention for a lyric essay in the 2017 Gulf Coast Prize for Nonfiction, and her manuscript of persona poems, Wild-Caught Gods, is a finalist for the Moon City Poetry Award.