Lisa Sewell


Western Lake, WA

In secret I climbed down
to the tweaker’s habitat

to the owner’s absence or oblivion.
In the pea green doublewide

a pit bull barked and whirled,
scratched and whined, trash-eating

scourge of the lakeside neighborhood—
though the lake is gone now.

The abandoned, sallow watchdog
couldn’t watch me through the green

pitted door, but could he smell,
could he scent me in the wild hedges?

Is that what made him scratch
and whinny and bark bark bark?

Could he tell of the branches
nobody owns, the greenery

and brambles with their teeth?
Shiny with hunger, with greed

and without black art I tore through
the blood sisterhood and copied it down

with fingers and lips,
an intractable thief saying nobody

in the lane, saying squinched and splurge
and blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

Later, the burrs stuck to socks and shoes
and required the painstaking pull

and dislodging of crime, of evidence 
and offense, offence and disorder.


Lisa Sewell is the author of several books of poems, most recently Impossible Object and Birds of North America, a collaboration with the artist Susan Hagen and the poet, Nathalie Anderson. She has also co-edited several collections of essays on contemporary North American poetry and poetics, including American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics with Claudia Rankine and North American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Beyond Lyric and Language, with Kazim Ali. She has received grants and awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Leeway Foundation and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Harvard Review, Split This Rock Review and Posit.