by Linda Parsons

Root yourselves, the teacher says, sink into the subflooring,
be one with the fibers of pine, scuffed boards, your feet
unmovable as granite embedded through millennia. I come
to tai chi as root, rock, wind, cloud. Sometimes I bend
to gather bundles of grain, sometimes to spread white stork’s
wings or strike my enemy the tiger. I come because I have
lost my way in the streets of town, because my ground
was stolen by one I thought would never uproot house and home,
because now, in synchronous rows on Sunday afternoons,
I see nothing can stand beneath my feet but the solemn
and lovely earth, the molten fire within it, cirrus rags above.
No one can steal my ground while I pivot pigeon toed, hips
square to the green wall, unmoved in knowing what is lost
is yet seen, the beak of my hand set to preen my iridescence.


LINDA PARSONS is a poet, playwright, and an editor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and the reviews editor for Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, One, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Shenandoah, Writers Resist, in Ted Kooser’s column American Life in Poetry, and in numerous anthologies. This Shaky Earth is her fourth poetry collection (Texas Review Press). Parsons’s adaptation, Macbeth Is the New Black, co-written with Jayne Morgan, was produced at Maryville College and Western Carolina University, and her play Under the Esso Moon was read as part of the 2016 Tennessee Stage Company’s New Play Festival and received a staged reading in spring 2017.


Photo: “Inverted Cave” by Neville Wootton