Driving west in the global north,
endlessly heading downhill.
Down, down to the flat bottomlands,
rich with place names designed to be aspirational –
Elyria, Avalon –
where trailers sprout like chickweed
among the corn.

Overland barges cruise asphalt rivers
as wide and flat as the Mississippi,
past landscapes that skip like ruined vinyl –
white house,
red barn,
white house,
red barn –
carrying carbon in carbon, to carbon, with carbon,
while the governor runs for president.

As a child of the forest, I wonder
if it is hard to grow an imagination here,
with soil this rich and deep.
Do you ever have to wonder,
when you can see everything,
and it all looks the same?
I am an outsider here
in the great wide open,
where they never use turn signals,
but always let you in.
But a man at a truck stop
keeps talking about eastern outsiders.
Maybe we are both right.
More likely, we are both left


The deaf girl who wanted
to play in the wind raced me
to a field of lupines: mauve
cobs piled in waves, and she
stood with their leaves about
her knees like petitioning hands,
a nest of palms opening to the
sky. Colors of the day deepened,
and her blue kerchief became
a deep well. She signed to me
in the wind, pale hair haloing
around her face, and like sweet

water my soul awoke from its
sleep. She was a globe of light
and I stood there, basking in
her glow.


We take communion with tiny
lakes and baptize with stars.
In this backcountry temple
we stand sprouts among
saplings, the trailhead like
the Word in our fingertips.
We kneel in soft meadow
seats, listen to the mountains
echo sermons of truth and
glacier before God’s people.
We breathe in faith like the
cool scent of vanilla flowers
on our skin. Gathered in the
heart of Christ, our faces
pressed against something
soft, we sleep in His gentle
palm, pillowed by the crescent
petals of a rose.


It was the place in La Mesa,
southern California for me;
the swing outside the cozy
house, the orange trees I’d
see out my back window,
the two black sable dogs I’d
feed. My best friend’s children,
each face a sunflower flushed
in the afterglow. My little half-
conscious sighs every time I’d
hear my cousin on the phone.

On weekends I’d cling to friends
in the evenings, in the apricot
sheen of the sky, hosting parties
and we’d tell the stories of our
lives. And on the polished floor
in a shimmer of topaz, each
separate face was distinct.

Over the winey Greek olives,
over the salty bones of the
anchovies even the most sweet,
we’d steal looks at each new
wrinkle, each new strand of grey
hair. Mine is still a reddish brown.
We’d talk all night like candles
in the windows of the young.

Miranda Peery is a senior English major at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and plans to attend graduate school in the autumn. She lives and writes in the Endless Mountains with her husband and their three children.