The Dangerous Country

A prominent Eastern poet, Elizabeth Spires, has been writing about the natural world lately. In this poem, published by Ploughshares last year, she identifies with an ancient sea creature, the Coelacanth, which was long thought to be extinct, only to be brought up abruptly from 1500 feet below the surface.

She concludes:

You and I, we live in depths profound and ceaseless,

we swim against cold currents until, netted

and gasping, we are shocked to find out
not what we are,
but what we have never been.

I love her ability to see beyond the obvious, to see a blindness both in our omnipresence and this curious creature’s obscurity.

And here’s an even more interesting poem, just published in The New Criterion.

You have flown to the dangerous country,

how easily you have left this life behind,

this street, this quiet city street,

where letters arrive each day dependably,

where trees make a canopy in summer,

and winter, it is winter now, possesses a cold clarity.

But in the place where you are there is heat,

there is hunger, and the trees have been cut down,

and dogs, there must be dogs, slink out of the night’s

blackness, teeth bared, and the sound of drumming penetrates

your sleep even when there are no drums. And slowly,

you begin to forget the words we are used to saying here,

they speak another language there, a language that has no place

for words like snow and safety, a language I will never know

because I have never been to the dangerous country,
                                                  and I do not think I will go.

That’s just the start. Sounds kinda like…


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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