Jenny Factor’s first collection, Unraveling at the Name (Copper Canyon Press), was a finalist for the 2002 Lambda Literary Award. With poems in the Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Nerve.com, and more than a dozen anthologies, including The Best American Erotic Poems (Scribner, 2008), Jenny’s poems have been honored with a Hayden Carruth Award and an Astraea Grant. Jenny received her BA from Harvard College. She serves as Core Faculty at Antioch University Los Angeles, the nation’s first low-residency MFA program devoted to literature and social justice.
The Oak of Eaton Wash
Long after all the dirt is gone
these oak tree roots still hold the shape
of every rock they tried to miss
in sinking down. Time-sleek, the streamway
clears the soil, but leaves this strange
embrace: stones, trees, these enemies,
forever held. Their change of course
Has tied the knots they tried to flee.
No longer can these rocks roll down
to throw themselves into the stream.
No longer can we straighten out
the gnarled choice of roots of trees.
Down in the depths, the shapes are fixed
Down deep, tough rocks and trees stay mixed.
“If I could just uncurl my hand
From these dumb rocks…
My fingers once were long and free
But now they’re stuck…
I only meant to reach around
And grow away
I’ve caught them up and now I find
Young twists all stay.”
One day when the roots shake free of dirt
and stroll the grass
I too will leave my streets behind
and walk through fields of fireflies.
There will be room between my bones
There will be room to stretch my skin
and all the knots that I have made
will come untied and let clouds in.