Leap Year & the New Madrid Earthquakes

Corrie Williamson Click to

williamson-pic-1Corrie Williamson is the author of Sweet Husk, which won the 2014 Perugia Press Prize and was a finalist for the Library of Virginia Poetry Award. She is currently at work on a manuscript of poems that travel between modern day Montana, where she lives, and early 19th century Fincastle, Virginia and St. Louis, Missouri, where they trace the voice and history of Julia Hancock Clark, the woman who married explorer William Clark and followed him west. Poems from this manuscript have recently appeared in AGNI, 32 Poems, Terrain.Org, Southern Humanities Review, Quarterly West, and other journals.

St. Louis, 1812

In town, chimneys fall
like wasps’ nests

broomed from eaves.
The bricked streets chasm

into maws. Bells rang
as far away as Boston,

the papers claim, whole
forests dragged into

fissures, the big muddy
calved & stalling around

newborn islands, riverboats
adrift like hickory leaves

on the backwards current.
Some say Tecumseh has put

his foot down, and who
could blame him. But I ask

if it may be only the earth
straining to snare her trail,

that promised, unending
orb she must keep, wobbling

as she goes, covetous
yet of the light’s leap.


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