I Swear Earth Is a Carnival Queen

Two poems by Lauren Moseley

multi-colored steaming spring

I Swear Earth Is a Carnival Queen

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Grand Prismatic Spring

—Yellowstone National Park


Wet maw of earth painted like a parrot fish     frilled 

at the banks     saying AH with extraordinary breath     coffee

makes my teeth earthen     plant them and grow a city  

when I go don’t bury them deep     scatter my ashes 

like the spring’s rings     in imperfect concentric circles

each one a different shade     on a cliffside color is how 

geologists tell the when     I want to know the why     azure 

turquoise kelly-green     canary mustard apricot     I swear

Earth is a carnival queen     embellished here by heat-loving     

bacteria around a boiling center     they say life began 

in a pond like this     volcanic and sun-splayed     

minerals washing down the mountains into the basin 

where the unfathomable happened     why 

is anything alive?     why do tourists throw their refuse

into a pot of phenomena?     why aren’t we extinct yet?     

all I know is when I was young     I wanted to be     

something grand     I stand by the railing     and watch


Record Rainfall

I read a devastating line of verse
and then the sun came out, 
the first time in weeks. 
I was masturbating as I read
and looking out the window.
Many things were happening.  
Each drop of dew on an oak leaf 
distinguished itself—a clear 
round seed. In the distance, the storm 
painted gray walls behind the pines, 
but in the foreground, ferns 
shook out their hair, striking me 
with light. Am I halfway through 
my life, or a third? Everywhere yellow 
needles from the wet year. They fell 
in an airy rain and continued to fall 
as the day dried. The young pines 
looked older than they were. 
The ancient oaks, never greener. 
The sun beat down on them both 
as I stepped from the house 
like something else that was still itself.

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