We carried the swifts in wheelbarrow loads
from factory windows, chimneys.

Lit our fires with peat,
our backs to the murmuring forest.

After the rain, dust motes.
Ghosts in a glade of shade pine.

Now we no longer know the names
for flowers, cannot unfurl them
nor the stars’ coils.

We flare in heaven’s refinery,
raise our smoldering flag.


“Paradise” from Bright Raft in the Afterweather by Jennifer Elise Foerster. © 2018 Jennifer Elise Foerster. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press.