A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

“American Poetry” by Zinnia Hansen

American Poetry

I imagine my brand-new copy of The Best
American Poetry 2021 lying stiff and silent after
the apocalypse. I’d like to remain conservative a
little longer. save seed for winter. watch it sprout in
the spring. I break bread by myself, sitting on the
floor, hunched over by the fire, like God’s lap cat,
watching it snow. I’m hoping another ice age will
give us room to thaw again. our Christmas tree this
year was thirteen feet tall. I was just grateful that
I couldn’t reach the top. sometimes I want God to
step out from the center of the sun. but other times
I want Him to stay there, pinned, the tallest branch
stuffed up His ass. this winter, I’ve noticed how the
sky grows blue every young night, how it’s growing,
inching that much closer to everything. I’m thinking
about how close blue is to orange. I’m thinking
about how the snow hasn’t stopped falling, about
how I want to make a perfume out of all our empty
orange peels, about how the mountains will melt
into mud. on the unfinished walls of the century-
old hardware store my grandparents turned into a
home are portraits of the salmon they caught. more
than alive, the fish tread water in their frames; open
mouths, a gateway to heaven. glorious iconography.
a paint brush, a pen, a knife. as I walk through the
storm, I look back and see the windows tinted red
with light. holy. the flags are flying, flopping like
dying fish as they learn how to breathe. who is going
to cut a hole in the horizon and let out the smoke?



Zinnia Hansen served as Seattle’s 2021-22 Youth Poet Laureate. This poem appears in her book Spikenard, and was performed at SAL’s Literary Arts Series event with Masha Gessen on Monday  April 17. 2023.