the pacific northwest is burning and two poems by rose williamson


the pacific northwest is burning


Idaho is on fire and the ash in the sky
has left an apocalyptic haze.
Everything is bathed in eerie yellow light
as I stare directly into the sun, looking more
like a moon in the harvest –
an otherworldly ochre,
spilling onto everything.
The midday sunset would have been marvelous
if not fueled by the smoke of my friends’ homes

Despite my Washington pride
I’d always hated rain, as it was a blight
to the wavy-haired population,
a frizz-inducing demon.
But here, far from home, I find it oddly nostalgic

and now, wonder how I ever wished it to stop.


catalogue entries

It’s the best
when the light from the ceiling fan
hits your shoulder blades like sand dunes
gilding your mild tan, smooth skin
over muscle and dashed
with the occasional sunspot I hope
never becomes cancerous.

It’s the best
when I tell you a joke
about Hellen Keller
reading a basketball for twenty minutes
and in your infinite wholesomeness, you
entertain the possibilities
of spherical braille.

It’s the best
when I ask if you’ll still like me
if I’m dying, to which you say
of course
so I say okay what if I’m not dying
what if I’m just a little bit I don’t know
and you reassure me that yes, even
if I were recovering from a coma,
you would still be there
and trust me, the recovery is harder
than the deep, indefinite sleep.

And if I were to die, get maimed, be comatose
I trust in your honesty when you say
you’d adopt my ferret –
you’re really the only person
he would want to live with,
and in that notion, I second him
while I add to my collection,
categorizing memories and polishing moments in time
of all the ways that you and I
are improved through being us.

habitually restless


You can only love like you’ve never been hurt once.

The rest, that’s something else.
And it’s healthier, hopefully
and it’s rational, but it leaves
your mouth without saliva
and a thirsty, calloused heart
as you’ve now learned
to measure the dosage
no risk of pain
or much of pleasure, just enough
to keep you hanging on
little loves, three times daily
and never all at once
after the first few months

and you hate
this flattened passion
the remains of it
as it once was
without a basis
for comparison, uncharted
like an island
where you discovered their palms
their caves, their waterfalls
their piranhas and venomous snakes.

When your map is complete,
and the security is suffocating,

you start building sails for fun.

Rose Williamson graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology from the University of Idaho, where she minored in writing and found a deep adoration for poetry. Her chosen field informs the way she looks at the world and, by extension, the poems she writes. Her works often focus on the human condition and how our separate existences come into play with one another.