NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD

Dorothy Gilbert


The Forest of Hands


Hands of the black oak, playing the light.

Hands of the ponderosa, a brush for the wind’s voice.

Hands of cedarfroth and alderfeather, hands

of cones fatfingered, sugar and pitchfingered,

thin and brittle brokenfingered;

Ham-handed sugar pine cones two feet long.

Tight-fisted cones; fists full of berries; old thistle-fists;

Grassy hands; fists full of seeds;


Long blue lupine hands testing the air.


Under the earth

old hands in pieces, bones

in the dark dirt.



Bear Genes


People are descended from bears.


As the winter eats up the daylight

and the edges of cold slide and cut along your bones,

don’t you feel it,

the weight of it,

the delicious downwardness toward sleep?

Sleep, like gravity.

Sleep, a meal

of dark, rich

stored things; fruits, fruit puddings,

syrups, breads, thicknesses, culmination.

Let the cold and the dark prevail out of doors.

Indoors, follow the wisdom of your bear genes,

follow the knowledge of your body, that

special, delectable

heaviness of yours—

those years and years

of past bears.



Bee Purple


Bee purple, bee violet—

we will never see it,

though it is there, hovering

in the air, among the colors.


Be brave. Hold a bee

in your hand —a dead bee, all electricity

gone. No fear; no sting; no buzz

of rods and cones in those eyes, no play

of colors on the keys

of that bee mind. Just wires

and brushes. It never saw


our singing scarlet, never worshipped fire—

vermillion, crimson, carmine—or was burnt

by that beauty. It never saw


what we will reconstruct; our Stygian shadows,

our bruises, our sweet crepuscular loves; never knew

our lilac fragrances. It saw


bee purple.



Dorothy Gilbert is the translator and editor of Marie de France: Poetry, (A Norton Critical Edition), which received the 2016 Northern California Book Award for Translation in Poetry and Honorable Mention for the MLA Jeanne and Aldo Scaglione Prize for translation of a literary work. Her publications include a verse translation of Chrétien de Troyes’ Erec et Enide, the first known Arthurian romance. Her own poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, The Iowa Review, PEN Southern Lights Anthology, Persimmon Tree, Tattoo Highway, and elsewhere. She has also published science fiction. Her article, “My Women's March,” recently appeared in Women's Voices for Change. She lives in Richmond, California.


— posted September 2018
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