Poem of the Week | November 23, 2015

This week we’re delighted to offer a new poem by Michelle Boisseau. Boisseau won the 2015 Tampa Review Prize, and her fifth book of poems, Among the Gorgons, will be published in April 2016. The NEA awarded her a second poetry fellowship in 2011. New poems have appeared in Poetry, Gettysburg Review, Yale Review, Hudson Review, Shenandoah, Cincinnati Review, Southwest Review, Prairie Schooner, Miramar, New Ohio Review, and others. She is a professor in the MFA program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where she is Senior Editor of BkMk Press and Contributing Editor of New Letters.

Author’s note:

A couple years back as I was buying plants for my garden at the local native plants sale, one of the volunteers corrected me and told me it wasn’t 100 but 500 plus species that are supported by a native oak tree–whereas an exotic like a Japanese maple can support only three or four. In the fall later that year, the goldenrod–seven-foot-tall spires–I had planted came into bloom and amazed us with its bounty of creatures. The poem came out of me mulling this around. “Billow” follows themes about aging, ecology, death, and urgent life that I pursue in my forthcoming book, Among the Gorgons, Tampa Review Press, April 2016.




The goldenrod shivers under the attention
of hundreds and hundreds of bugs flooding


its powdery yellow towers. Some float in,
some zigzag. They bound, they crawl grip to grip,


they dive like owls into a meadow. Wasps, beetles,
bees, hornets, hoppers, butterflies, they waggle,


can-can fashion, their butts in the air, nuzzling
and combing packages of pollen. Bumbling thumb


and wisps of comma, we hook the hooks of September
which fetches and plumps its shadow: slowly hurry,


all of us alive together at once, speeding through
like comets we guide our own undoing.