Pick-a-Poem: Jennifer Atkinson


Good morning, and welcome to another installment of our “Pick-a-Poem” feature. In case you don’t know, we post one of these features each Wednesday, showcasing a new poem from an author you may not have heard of. I find these poems courtesy of Poetry Daily, which is a very helpful website that features new poems each day. If you like today’s poem and would like to read more new works, be sure to check out their site! For now, today’s featured poem is Landscape with Translucent Moonby Jennifer Atkinson.

According to her page on Poetry Daily, Jennifer Atkinson has written four collections of poetry. Her most recent collection, Canticle of the Night Path, won Free Verse’s New Measure Prize in 2012. In addition, her poems have appeared in such publications as Field, Image, Witness, New American Writing, Poecology, Terrain and Cincinnati Review. She teaches in the MFA and BFA programs at George Mason University.

Landscape with Translucent Moon, by Jennifer Atkinson

Palm trees, like old pilings, tip
in the sand toward the Maldive Islands still.
The moon,
a slice of green coconut, floats
in a sky streaky with cloud.

Eight winters after the tsunami hit,
the coral reef is reinventing itself
by fits and starts, by hook and foot
and reef-wasn’t-built-in-a-day
steady calm.
Patience comes easy to gastropods.

The after-war
news is of atrocity, in this like
before-, during, after-
war news everywhere: rape, torture, mass graves,
the usual list, human power
reasserting itself
on the bodies of others.

Deep in the once
jungled, once war-riven
Tamil north, a Buddha carved in living stone
still falls smiling into death,
serene these last thousand years.
How many wars
has that peace survived?

It’s said that just before he died,
the historical Buddha
sent south to Sri Lanka
a slip from the original
enlightenment tree at Bodh Gaya.

That tree planted between the sites of tsunami and war
is now the oldest tree on earth, a living
emblem of compassion
for these last two thousand years.

It’s guarded night and day at gunpoint.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem. If you’d like to see more of these posts, click here!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


2 thoughts on “Pick-a-Poem: Jennifer Atkinson

  1. Wassberg, Carol A. March 12, 2014 / 12:31 pm

    Thank you!


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