THIS IS CRAZY by Marianne Boruch


dot/dashed into mantra
    the abandoned telegraph way, sand for decades
    claiming the first station

that ghosted code and voice, lost urgencies in that
    drift between States, States of Being like
    South Australia, Western Australia, dreaded
    Nullarbor Plain threading one to the other near
    the bluest bight, our plan to wander–
    And risk water and life out there? They said no,

do not, do not…

Of course, cautions went legend: few decent wells,
     scarce gasoline in the Outback, no fully
     sealed roads, UFOs hovering in wait, thieving
     would-be murderers in dust and low growth
     fake-begging rides.

Oh yes, we were warned at suppers and carparks,
     in hallways, on trails, even my drawing group
     spoke up, sweetest art center in Belconnen
     where we worried our parking out front illegal.

But this new word to me: tablelands in Canberra
     meant: stay. All those warnings = stay with us.

Land as table, as if you could sit down forever,
     pure evening solace of
     plate, a cup warm or cool to the brim is how
     I first loved that word before
     knowing what, if anything, of altitude.

No one says down under there.


Marianne Boruch’s ten books of poetry include The Anti-Grief (Copper Canyon, 2019), her prose–three essay collections, most recently The Little Death of Self (Michigan, 2017), and a memoir about hitchhiking in the early ’70s, The Glimpse Traveler (Indiana, 2011). Among her honors are a Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award and fellowships/residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center and two national parks (Denali and Isle Royale). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Field, American Poetry Review, POETRY, The New England Review, Field, the New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, Kenyon Review, Volt and elsewhere. On a 2019 Senior Research Fulbright in Australia, she observed that country’s astonishing wildlife to write Dark Bestiary, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press this October. Going rogue and emeritus in 2018 from Purdue University, Boruch continues to teach in the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.