Jenna Butler

Jenna Butler is the author of three books of poetry, Seldom Seen Road, Wells, and Aphelion, and a collection of ecological essays, A Profession of Hope: Farming at the Edge of the Grizzly Trail. She is a farmer and a professor of creative writing and ecocriticism at Red Deer College.




Atalanta’s Orchard

that first summer

not knowing better     we planted

new apple trees in the blighted orchard

           runes of slender trunks lined

           like some sort of witching

watched them heft

frantic crowns of green

     trying to please us

     in the manner of plants              utterly

without guile or restraint

tell me this

where the balance is found

in all we cultivate

between fortune and the jag of loss

I watched failure ride

their silver limbs

           one wind on a cool day

           the way bark flays open

           like flesh or                  hope

blossoming and blasting

white coronas almost mythic

how a blighted tree breaks in the offering

heartwood bigger than its skin

they’re slight     the things that tell you

          you’re leaving a place

          and you won’t return 





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