The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2016

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Land Art

Think about a word: grass –

about an individual grass
then about a hundred species of grass.

At first you look and see a large field.

Look closer and you will see
the grasses in the field.

We are standing, boxed by a hot window
our back to the fields.

Lift the grasses from a box
and lay them out across the field.

A man picks up
a golden stalk –

slender auricles
clasped at the blade.

Don’t worry about your grasses
falling apart – grasses
grow to disintegrate!

When a grass falls apart
you have a chance to notice
each individual floret –

what separates one grass
from another.

On the paspalums grass:
sessile spikeletes.

On the panicums grass:
broad basalnotes.

Scattered along the axis
we form a rosette –

we are bunched, decumbent culms
the involute blades of lovegrass.

See how the branches inflouresce?

Count the glumes.
They will put out seeds.
They will begin to reveal themselves –

Buffalo grass

Witch grass

Black bent


The people in the church begin to talk
like leaves with ciliate ligules –

If you split the rhizomes
of the iris in summer.

I’ve never seen the blue
of a blue stem, says another.

We are tiny radiating windmills
at a dinner party of grass.

Dissect the seedhead

peel the sheath.

Oh flutists of the field
wind-blown Graminoid –

walk into the greenly singular, singing

the long sight line

monochrome field.

How we love the undamaged, neutral space.

Note the scale change

point of digression.

To the north a pronghorn

freezes in the meadow –

fine Fescue, monocotyledon.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand
what the symphony is saying –

how the wind plays harps in the grass.

Note the modulations – light

to dark. How the setting down of art

is as important as its making.

You will look for a pattern
and see none.

You will look for openings –

they will close from you.

For a moment

you see it as a whole. Then turn –

the grass –

how it fractures.



Jennifer Foerster

JENNIFER FOERSTER received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (2007) and her BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico (2003). From 2008 ? 2010, Foerster was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. She has received a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, along with fellowships to attend Soul Mountain Retreat, Caldera Arts, the Naropa Summer Writing Program, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center. Foerster’s first book of poems, Leaving Tulsa, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2013, and was a Shortlist Finalist for the 2014 PEN Open Book Award. Of German, Dutch, and Muscogee descent, Foerster is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. She lives in San Francisco while concurrently pursuing her Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing at the University of Denver.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2016

All Issues