A Northwest Based Literary Journal

Pickup Truck Pantoum

by Sierra Nelson

read as pdf

Across the pickup’s back bumper, a figure slung
sideways, wrapped and roped in tarp.
Startled is not the right word. It took me a long time
to see that there were antlers,

sideways, sticking out from the roped tarp
wrapped to accentuate girlish curves.
To see that there were antlers
did not dispel my first belief:

a girl’s curved body, lying there:
an antlered girl laid low.
Belief’s first grief lingers
and even if mistaken, isn’t wrong:

an antlered girl: not buck, not deer,
that once lipped berries tenderly from between thorns,
and even if mistaken, isn’t wrong,
flicking an ear back at a twig crack of danger.

Lipping berries tenderly from thorns,
and the fragrant green flavor of the neighbor’s prized roses,
flicking an ear back at a twig crack of danger:
why run? Lost in her own thoughts.

Roses. The tarp was white. The light changing.
Across the pickup’s bumper, a figure slung
and moving forward now, starting to pull away.
Startled is not the right word. It took me a long time.


Sierra Nelson is a Seattle-based poet, installation artist, and co-founder of collaborative performance groups Vis-à-Vis Society and The Typing Explosion. Her books include forthcoming The Lachrymose Report (Poetry Northwest Editions) and lyrical choose-your-own-adventure I Take Back the Sponge Cake (Rose Metal Press) made with artist Loren Erdrich. Nelson is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, and recipient of the Carolyn Kizer Prize and Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s CityArtist Grant. songsforsquid.tumblr.com

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