Poem of the Week | October 22, 2018

This week we are delighted to present “Orchard, Cut Out,” a new poem by Taneum Bambrick.

Taneum Bambrick is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her chapbook, Reservoir, was selected by Ocean Vuong for the 2017 Yemassee Chapbook Prize. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s MFA program, she is the winner of an Academy of American Poets University Prize, and the 2018 BOOTH Nonfiction Contest. Her poems and essays appear or are forthcoming in Quarterly West, Pleiades, Blackbird, Passages North, The Southeast Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and elsewhere. She has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

Orchard, Cut Out

The smell of Grayson’s energy drink
was a melting battery in the rain.

After all day painting stumps
we both jumped out of a moving truck

because he gripped the side of my face.
A misunderstanding, he said,

and that was the thought I always had
when alone in a cab with a man: would the grass

soften the impact? The door clipped
my forehead on the way down.

Lucky for the apple field, he said.
Lucky you didn’t pull this shit on flat ground.

He held both of my wrists and the vehicle
stalled. And the river. Here is what is

already known. The remains of the trees
were blaring. Two hundred neon globes.

You can see my right eyebrow still bends
wrong around a divot like an arrow.


Author’s Note

When I worked as the only woman on a park maintenance crew, I drove from site to site each shift with one man. Which man it was rotated between six, most of whom had never worked alongside women. During those ten-hour days we fought over music, the smell of the other person’s food, how hot or cold it was in the cab. Those moments between tasks held their own specific threat. I preferred scooping salmon spines left by fishermen off the grass.

There is a specific trauma in understanding your own proximity to the danger in another person, and a second when you realize their danger is a reality in which you are trapped. I wrote this because when I told someone this story they asked what did you expect.