Joanna Rawson’s collection of poems unrest is one of four books of poetry nominated for this year’s Minnesota Book Awards. unrest is billed as a series of “restless meditations on American life, political borders, lawlessness, parenthood, and the spaces where the natural world and human turmoil come into conflict.” You may have read Rawson’s work, either as a poet or a journalist, in City Pages or Utne Reader. Rawson also works as a Master Gardener in Northfield, Minnesota.
I can’t seduce these raucous birds.
Or sneak up on a willow while they riot there.
Look–even my shadow’s a suspect in this dark.
I can’t approach without startling from them
an insurgent cursing that gusts and stutters down the trunk.
The weeping limbs ripple in alert as if they’ve been started by wind
that steals through thistle toward their camp.
I can’t manage to net them in my grip.
I can’t seem to accomplish any sort of government,
any hold over these unruly crows who nest in rags
and scream at the blowback their quarrelsome cries.
Still, they allow me to stay in the vicinity–
many nights, right here among them, as they activate the dust
and carry on disturbing the perilous air.
Even in their mercy, I believe they understand
my wanting to end their song.
— “Wind Camp” by Joanna Rawson, as published in her collection of poems unrest. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher, Graywolf Press.