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poetry Hoktvlwv’s Crow

Jennifer Elise Foerster’s poetry depicts the natural environment—songbirds, hackberry trees, a butterfly named Question—fated for an apocalyptic ending.

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Hoktvlwv’s Crow

By Jennifer Elise Foerster

There were still songbirds then

nesting in hackberry trees

and a butterfly named Question.

I remember ivy trembling

at the vanishing point of your throat.

Then the timelines crashed.

California split into an archipelago.

Orchards withered under blooms of ash.

Now there is no nectar. No rotten fruit.

The air is quiet.

Once, in Russia,

Ornithologists trapped

a population of hooded crows,

transported them 500 miles

westward. Winter came.

They never caught up with their flock.

With crusts of calcified algae

we catalogue each day lost:

hot thermals, cirrus vaults,

fistfuls of warblers hurtling into dark.

There was no sound to the forgetting.

We knew the heart would implode

before the breath and lungs collapsed.

That the world would end in snow,

an old woman walking alone,

empty birdcage strapped to her back.

“Hoktvlwv’s Crow” was first published in Bright Raft in the Afterweather (Univ of Arizona Press)


Jennifer Elise Foerster earned her PhD in English and Literary Arts from the University of Denver and her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. Jennifer serves as Interim Director of the Institute of American Indian Arts MFA Low-Residency Program, where she also teaches. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Jennifer is the author of Leaving Tulsa, (2013) and Bright Raft in the Afterweather (2018), both published by the University of Arizona Press. She lives in San Francisco.