Jeanine Stevens


Walking into this historic site,

house on the left, garden

and woodland to the right,

a poet’s home—brown timbers,

a porch and hearth, wavy window

glass, and a small shelf

where books may be purchased.


No one lives here now, seams

go unstitched, lentils grow cold

on the stove. The swamp beyond,

once stretched to the Potomac. 


I try to imagine this place, hot

and wet, Northeastern Indiana,

popping seeds like the snapping

fingers, the flash of silver netted wings

—blue-green dragonflies singing,

and the sweet splash of amphibians

etching circles near the bank.


In sunny areas, the cruciferous

odor of chartreuse pollen floats

like chunks of bright colored bread,

and footsteps, the soft press of feet—

what we call prairie chickens.

I taste the moisture of salt weed

on my lips, dig toes in warm mud

below the water table, and touch

the bones of mammoths.



[This poem appeared in Boundary Waters (Indian Heritage Council, 2005]


Jeanine Stevens was raised in Indiana and lives now in Northern California. Her poems have been published in The South Dakota Review, Wavelength, Poetry Depth Quarterly, and Timber Creek Review, among others.  Jeanine was the 2007 Winner of the Stockton Arts Commission Poetry Contest.