Featured Poetry

Ellen Girardeau Kempler – Jet Lag

Ellen Girarardeau Kempler’s “Jet Lag” places us in the rugged Arizona desert and takes us back into the furthest expanses of geologic time. As the narrator awakens after a flight, the reader is escorted with them into the depths of eternal change, the traces of which can be seen all around us, even now. “[‘Jet Lag’] took shape during Orion Magazine’s 2020 environmental writing workshop at the base of the remote ‘sky islands’ of Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains,” Ellen explained to The Dewdrop. She continued, “Sheltered out of time in that protective space, some one hundred writers gathered in a kind of Earth Grief Summit. Coincidentally, this gathering turned out to be our last week of normalcy before worldwide COVID lockdowns.”

Jet Lag

I woke out of context
in a place where hours
are porous as limestone

where, over centuries,
rain & ice melt merged,
carving valleys & coursing

through canyons. Some
rivers ran underground,
some above, forming
caverns like cathedrals

festooned in glistening calcite—
water flows frozen in rock—
stalactites & stalagmites,
columns & curtains, shields
& even rare cave pearls.

Deep inside cliffs, water
created aisles & apses,
arcades & galleries,
vaulted ceilings & choirs—

prehistoric sanctuaries
with welcoming entrances
framed in extended ledges
offering open-air shelter.

There, fires flickered through
time, leaving their marks
in charcoal carbon-dated to
the last Ice Age, linking

our epoch to theirs, leaving
traces like footprints to follow
back into darkness still
illuminated with their light.

Ellen Girardeau Kempler

Ellen Girardeau Kempler’s poems have appeared in Wild Roof Journal, Mindful Poetry Anthology, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Narrative Northeast, Writers Resist, One Jacar Press and many other small presses and anthologies. In 2016, she won Ireland’s Blackwater International Poetry Prize and honorable mention in Winning Writers’ Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. Called “a timely and powerful selection of climate poetics,” her chapbook, Thirty Views of a Changing World: Haiku + Photos, was published in December 2017 by Finishing Line Press. For the past several years, she has cultivated a practice of posting one photo from her day with an ekphrastic haiku response on her Instagram feed @placepoet. She is a member of poet James Crews’ The Monthly Pause and Holly Wren Spaulding’s Casual Union of Working Poets via @poetryforge. Learn more on her website: https://www.ellengirardeaukempler.com/

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