Materialism, Exhibit 43: Woodpecker and Ash Borer

by Jessica Reed



Here comes a lesson in telling holes
from holes—an emerald ash borer,

a woodpecker: did the woman who fit
a year’s refuse into a quart ball jar mean

to make her waste precious? Vertical splits—
one digs for the other. This foraging damage.

Consider the life cycle of the ash, the percussive
taps of the Picidae, and even that beetle sent

from Beijing to France. The crater carved out
of one life by another. Strange inversion,

a made thing: the art of gutting what we need—
a sacred absence, what comes to matter.



Jessica Reed’s chapbook, World, Composed (Finishing Line Press), is a dialogue with the ancient poet Lucretius, who first explored atoms in verse. Her work has appeared in Conjunctions, North American Review, Crazyhorse, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Bellingham Review, New American Writing, Waxwing, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The Indianapolis Review, Spiral Orb, The Fourth River, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in poetry and a BS in physics, and she teaches a university seminar on physics and the arts. Twitter handle: @jreedscipoet

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