the next field over

you might as well call it tender— the bridge

downtown climbing the dawn like morning

glory on a trellis. i have found joy where i was told

there could be no joy. sometimes that is my home

the soot-throated sighs and the valley they hover

over; where my dead lie in pine on a miner’s

pension, broken-backed or bent spirit.

this is where i was young, knowing little

of history, crawling into what only looked

abandoned. every fence jumped in the diamond city

named the most unhappy place in america

since i’ve moved away.

they don’t use the affirmative

but i’ve been sadder everywhere.

the susquehanna remembers before the earth

was tapped, when what we had was promise.

the river has never known its own name.

only tied to bone, out here, on this farm, a ramshackle

bridge to get us from one side of a rain to another.

i’d like to carry a body across like that— tender

but i am more like the gathering of rain

a muscle of clay arching beneath the current.


nicole v basta is a poet, teaching artist, collage artist, and wannabe carpenter. Chosen by Rigoberto González, her chapbook V won The New School’s Annual Contest. Poems appear or are forthcoming in Birdfeast, Bodega, Qu, The Shallow Ends, Ninth Letter, SWWIM, Nat. Brut, and elsewhere. Her ancestors were coal miners– she tries to not be afraid of the dark. Find more here: nicolevbasta.com