from GUESS WHO by Katy Gurin

Guess Who #1

Are you a farmer, your fields within?
Are you an ecosystem,
a composite? Or are you
a parasite,

poking holes,
lapping up
the leaked

Without the other,
you’re a blob: no
tufts or strands―

eater of rock, “you’ll have
no tassels”
until you cradle your
eater of light.

Guess Who #2

One set of jaws to eat only

what’s been freely given,
another set
just to cut
through your shelter of silk and rock.

You make a second body
to travel to the new fluid. Then a third, which you unfurl at the surface,
to take in their heady scents—
your yearlong life:

you were submerged all winter
in the best water.

Guess Who #3

The feeling they produce is not transferable.
–John Steinbeck

Dear Reader, do you remember
when Sarah Connor
shot the T-1000
and he just kept healing,
kept staggering toward her
until she ran
out of ammo?

This is how they grow
pruned by lightening
practically immortal; “cathedrals”
that can eat the rot
of their own
aging limbs.


I just don’t know how to address the few
who are left.

What I feel is a face
looms 300 feet above, and down
in the dark
of the soil below my toes
they clasp hands and nurse
through their anchors.

Sometimes, I want to slice
and core, to smell the sugars
and see the chambers

to write
and read
our history.


In the early ’90’s,
Maxxam cut most of the old growth:
one section
of a two-thousand year old body
to one
log truck.

“Our city’s sole work,” Mom said,
“is to take
unfathomable beings
and pile them up.”

A few years
and the piles dwindled, then
raided the pensions.

Now, what else can we do
with our scant joy

other than walk upriver
to be with them as they peek
around the broad, fragrant planes
of their wounds?

1:lichen 2:caddisfly 3: redwood

Katy Gurin earned her B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Humboldt State University in 2011. She has worked as an engineer on projects throughout California, including the restoration of Wishon Quarry, the decommissioning of the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant, and the removal of San Clemente Dam. Katy’s field guide to common birds of the Mojave Desert can be found at UC Riverside’s Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center, and several of her poems have appeared previously in Narrative Magazine. She is the curator of the Eulachon poetry reading series, and co-founder the climate activist group 350 Riverside.