by Jennifer Saunders (Art by Nadia Gerassimenko)
Some species make their homes in snag forests
and burrow into charcoaled pines.
The jewel beetle might fly for fifty miles,
metallic and iridescent in the sun,
to lay its eggs beneath burnt bark
in smoldering trees still warm to the touch.
The black-backed woodpecker drills nests
into deadwood to bring forth chicks,
feeds them on wood-boring beetles.
Oh you specialists of the burnt out and broken,
first signs of life after the scorching,
flash of color in the ash and scolding churr in the snag,
you nesters among the dead:
teach me to sense smoke across the valley
and spread my wings to fly to that which is charred.
Bring me to the dead zones that nourish and shelter
those willing to bore beneath the scars
the flames left behind.
Jennifer Saunders is an Illinois native currently living in German-speaking Switzerland. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Spillway, UCity Review, and elsewhere. Jennifer holds an MFA from Pacific University and in the winters she teaches skating at a hockey school and drives her hockey-playing sons to many, many hockey rinks.
(Artist) Nadia Gerassimenko is the founding editor of Moonchild Magazine, managing editor at Luna Luna Magazine, and proofreader at Red Raven Book Design. She is a freelancer in editorial services by trade, a poet and writer by choice, a moonchild and nightdreamer by spirit.
Artist's Statement, "Agonia," mixed media photography:
Besides writing, photography and digital rendering is another passion of mine. I just get lost in another world when I’m photographing and nothing else exists, only my camera obscura and I. I love taking photographs of seemingly mundane happenings and things in my immediate milieu and reworking them to be something more or different visually—and maybe even emotionally. Since I am still healing from illness, my world is small and I can only navigate in tiny footsteps; I make it richer by reimagining and redefining it and my life and everything else that impacts me. I hope to transport others to another realm, strike a chord, provoke a smile, or at the very least delight optically.