Siham Karami

Hovland, Minnesota

Everything I ever was comes from here.
The near-empty shelves with a few loaves of Langendorf bread.
The slow gait of the man who ran the store.
For kerosene, we had to go to Grand Marais.
Here was ice, pancake mix, and milk.
The only place of commerce in a town
that's basically an intersection in the woods.
Its only luxury, the Lutheran church built like an eagle's wing
in light wood, about to take off.
Turn left onto the long, birch-forest-lined road
and its universe will enter into you,
breathing through the flickering leaves,
your wind mixed with fir-scented breezes
and thousands of glints spilling onto you.
You are a child here,
your heart filling so fast
it could take years to sort it out.
We drive you seven miles to the cabin,
fix the broken bridge with fallen logs.
We spent our summers here
etched by twigs and branches, redolent
with 6-12 repellant, linseed oil, a bearskin rug,
and woods in every breath.
Sweat with me, carry these metal buckets
down to the spring.
Did you ever imagine it spilling cold from wooden barrels
buried in the earth?
Forever cooled by leaf-shadows, by gnat-clouds
hovering in unearthly daylight,
your pores fill to overflowing,
humming to the very core of your being,
the weeds and deerflies fluttering words: alive…
When you die, the shelves of bread will again be almost bare,
and you will leave this cherished earth
on wood so light it wings.

Siham Karami’s work can be found or is forthcoming in such places as The Comstock Review, Able Muse, The Rumpus, Tupelo Quarterly Review, and Off the Coast, among others. Her first poetry collection, To Love the River, will be published in early 2019. Nominated multiple times for both the Pushcart and Best of the Net, she blogs at

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