Lisa Marie Oliver

Trillium, anonymous, 1817

Self-Portrait with Trillium


I think about you underground,
parturient rootstock, seedpod’s slow growth.
Nodes shoot out in darkness

like cold vernal stars. Wake Robin,
I don’t take you for granted
even when I can’t find you.

Wake Robin, even before you exist,
I don’t take for granted
your three ovate accumate leaves.


By March, I’m starved for your arrival.
Wasps congregate the cedar’s understory.
Birthroot, it’s been a long winter.

Your triplet peels open in light-gaps,
forest canopy diffusing
stars, moon, sun, fed by brightness.

I kneel among ferns for your
whorl of petals until I am fern,
cedar, bright.


My son and I search in the low paths.
We count repeating threes:
bracts, sepals, roseum. When we find

the woodland slope, hundreds of you
gather. Hoverflies swarm in nimbus.
Our shadows hoop the deciduous,

hand in hand. We match the letters
in your names. Again and again,
this field salvation.

Wheat Field 1888
Vincent van Gogh Dutch


Riverside Fires, 2020


I don’t know how to fear the wind
   until the fields shake.
Sirens and neighbors call out,
   oaks wave recklessly.
Oaks wave with spark-caught
   leaves. The sky the color
of fresh plums. Dust-thick. Ashed.
   Ground hot, a bruise,
a cast-iron-pan. The sky, a whipped
   mouth. I kiss the dark ground
goodbye. Fields. Wheat. Corn husks.
   Barn. Swingset. Little grove. Creek.


Three days later, rain,
   soot roads and house skeletons.
What used to be a barn.
   Old blackberry brambles pitchy.
Soot sky, what used to be
   a bruise. What used to be a grove.
The field holds a half-feral
   lone mule. Her raw hooves.
Sharp ears prick fire-singed,
   a frothy leathered mouth.
She places her sorrel face
   in my palm.

Lisa Marie Oliver lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Her poems are featured and forthcoming in West Trestle Review, Rogue Agent and SWWIM.

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Spring 2022