Bertha Rogers









First, I was mountain, one among

many—our shoulders shoved up, rough.

We jostled and pushed, seeking blue;

we grew meager from the ceaseless

butting, our borders rupturing,

rounding down to stippled smallness.


Then I was stone, alone. I stood

in a green field, below a flimsy sky.

I was hugely still. There was quiet

around, within—just air and I.


In time, faces with voices showed—

limbs, hands. Grunting, they hoisted

my bulk. I said nothing, pondered

where they would, at last, set me down.


They broke me, they piled me up

with my kind. Now we rest, together,

screened by trees who seeded themselves

in our abraded bodies, thin skin—

those high, shifting limbs ours, too.


We are become a host, yet one—

rooted, riveted. Fingered arms

sign our big thoughts in air, but we

hold; stillness is our wary way.

We are grove, and we slowly think—

slow we go, back—from stand, to range.











Late spring, precipitate summer,

long day’s end.

A roan doe coolly grazes,

her flank eclipsing twilight.


The old dog wakes,

pushes to the pane, barks once.


Meanwhile the cloud stalls—

moisture taps the night,

faint raiment draping  roof.


Like a lost, limned drawing

we advance beneath our own matter,

waiting the sting of notice.


Meanwhile vapor continues.

The old dog moans.


Now the doe lifts her easy head,

glances at the glass,

and hoofs away. Now—

only the chiaroscuro of dusk.




Great friendly beast,

large dog of the sky

hunkering down,


some obscure, grounded cosmos.

He noses open his own door,

slips his collar,

sniffs the wide-open air,

ranges and rachets

the streets

until he finds true happiness.

Then does the sainted beast’s

mouth open

on his glorious white teeth.






Here I am, November, inside your vague weather—

fog drift swaying vision, slouching on my chest.


Up the branched slope, atop the black spruces,

crows raucously claim ownership of this land.


In another country, that November, clouds surrounded

the train I rode past crowded mountain tracts.


I was there, believer, a bear burning for this real

future, this hollowed old apple, dug-out den—


I was learning how to lay down my head.














Bertha Rogers’s bio:


More than 400 of Bertha Rogers’s poems have been published in literary magazines, journals, and anthologies, and in several collections, among them A House of Corners (Three Conditions Press) and Heart Turned Back (Salmon Poetry, Ireland). Her translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, was published in 2000 (Birch Brook Press); her translation of the Anglo-Saxon riddle poems from the Exeter Book, Uncommon Creatures, Singing Things, is forthcoming from Birch Brook Press. She is the founding director, since 1992, of Bright Hill Press and Literary Center in New York’s Catskill Mountain Region.



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