In the Woods Called Karen

by Carrie Chappell

—for Karen Dalton

i.

When I ask for voice,

She brings me firewood.

                                    (It’s an accident to need her)

&, when I pick at grasses,

She graces my tongue

With her picking, as if she combs

The rabbit of her blues

With my white-haired commas.

ii.

                                    (& I am grim with grammar)

When I brush the bark

Of my history, her eyes

Pierce me from tree holes, black

Out impossibility,

Crow me to new questions.

This is the deep well

Of her look, the sap of her smirk.

iii.

This what fastens.

                                    (For she will stick to you)

iv.

When I see her walk a hill,

She flings off

My woman’s crooked look.

She is to rove. This is the crook

In her, the bristle.

She won’t be known.

v.

When I go to love her, I see I’ve already

Sucked her dry, & she is shooting up.

She is shooing me away,

Shot with beyond.

vi.

                                    (In her wilderness is wilderness is wildernesses)

She dreams where few women sleep,

Runs where few patter, but

When she parts her lips, she cracks

My cabin floorboards wide open.


Carrie Chappell is a writer, translator, editor, and educator. Some of her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, cream city review, FORTH Magazine, Harpur Palate, Leveler, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, SWWIM, and those that this. Her lyric and book essays have been published in DIAGRAM, Fanzine, The Iowa Review, The Rumpus, The Rupture, and Xavier Review. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Carrie is interested in the exploration of feminine personae and the narration of lives of women as they confront conflicting nostalgia for and injury perpetuated by Western structures of prejudice, particularly those apparent in her homeland of The U.S. American South.

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