Three Poems

Daneen Bergland

Love Scene with Maggots

Long ago our love was feral,

it grew over us like ferns and moss

until we felt languid as rotting leaves.

Sometimes we’d give each other flowers,

perfect symbol for failing

to plan ahead. But more than spit

or skin against skin, I love you

for all the things you made

that fell apart. For instance, the arbor

where the robin filled her cup of mud

with blue. Standing over it where it fell

I imagined looking down at my fingers to find

they were feathers. I have been that useless.

I have felt the moon beating on our roof,

blessing the house. I have been that awake.

I have learned about love from sleep,

its pleasure as it slips and you miss it.

More than suck or sweat

of want, I love you as a matter of fact

as you lift the carcass from the bottom of the barrel,

what I made because I am careless,

a dead thing shivering back.


Sometimes Eve Gets Drunk Enough She Forgives Herself

How safely we live in this house with the dirt hem so close
to the end of the world. The flowers here are serious.
How I’ll miss them. Sometimes we like to watch the weather happen
on a computer screen or spy for weeks at a time
on a bowl of eagles sleeping. I’ll miss the quiet sunlight
at the mall, the bromeliads floating over the ice rink.
I’ll miss perfume and complaining about spring.
No, I can’t speak of the bees, the garden’s little housewives.
It’s easier to say I’ll miss the butterflies. I watched them
on YouTube and discovered the chrysalis
is not a dressing room from which you make your revelation.
It’s a horror movie with a happy ending.
I wish I knew less. But unlearning is not the same
as being unseduced. I’d like to still be piecing together the story
of how trees were invented, the wanderlust of weeds.
But it’s good to think we’ll never again
have to eat a pleasureless salad from Safeway.
Remember giving birth? That permanent twilight,
riding the long hot wave of your gut to the holy jolt.
I wish this waiting felt more like work. I’m so tired
of cataloging all the things we’ll miss. Plastic, pollen,
impeccable penmanship, and other tools of faith
in permanence. Mostly, it will be the useless things, I think.
Jewelry, toenails, soap operas, cats.


An Evolution of Understanding

Mice. Specifically a mouse
eating a donut. Then more childhood

accidents. The realization of bones,
the penetrable skin of frogs and milk.
God made sense for a few minutes.

But the bees made more.
Their fragile, complicated dancing
reminded us of love,

which we thought of as constant,
the sure warm place under a tongue,
but it wasn’t. We were over

and over kicked out of that wilderness.
Grass was a sleeping giant,
and the birds always leaving,

sometimes stopped to cheer
down on their way to getting lost
in the mirrors of buildings.

How the world distracted us, too,
with constant offers.
Occasionally came back

to the mouse, not wild, not tame,
domestic as a potholder.
There was nothing to worry about;

everything terrible had already happened
to other people. God tried to make
explanations, but it was like trying

to read the bees. All the while
the unfinished business of discovery,
fingertips perched on their tiny platforms

each print pressed flat as a moth on glass.
The sense of loss when we missed the soft pleasure
of erasers. So we made artifacts more permanent

than rocks and threw them
away and away. Children were born,
each with a twiggy nest of questions

chirping inside her. They palmed the perfect heft
of apples and pictured their own bright hearts
bruising. We couldn’t imagine

being able to love them enough,
so we placed lenses over our eyes
to look.


Daneen Bergland studied Creative Writing and Women’s Studies as an undergraduate and worked with victims of abuse and neglect as a legal advocate and protective services worker for ten years. She earned her MA in Writing from Portland State in 2006. She has been teaching full time in the UNST program since 2010. Her areas of expertise are online learning and writing instruction.

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