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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 3: May 2020
Prose Poem: 315 words
By Keith Woodruff

Letter to Wordsworth


You were my first, William. I mean wow, right in the feels. Walked every line beside you, felt the same ecstatic rapport with earth and air in my blood as I wandered lonely as a boy gathering a childhood full of pockets full of place: skin collecting bee stings, poison ivy blisters thick as frog eggs between my fingers, gashes from blackberry brambles up my arms like bleeding stitches. I have been to your woods and now, before they are gone, come with me to mine. Out of gratitude, let me show you a wild I never found in yours, where those hills and groves can reflect like postcard windows my sparrows break their necks against. You pick the prettiest flowers, William. No wet snakeskins, steaming blue-green gut piles in autumn, mice reduced to gray burs of bone, fur and teeth—our fate, maybe. The Market is sacred. Earthquakes shake the Midwest now. This morning in London, outraged commuters dragged Extinction Rebellion activists off the trains. Let’s dust off our glad animal movements while we can, hit the trail for a little Forest Bathing. Come with me, beyond the fence, to the lake out back. We can drift all day in my rowboat, get bone drunk on the vagabond joy of having nowhere to be. At sundown, by the pond’s edge, compose odes to Sweet William and Sweet Woodruff. Repose and clap the frogs quiet for grins. Warm our hands against the chirr of crickets as the air begins to cool. You should be alive at this hour, railing with me at these plundering fuckers, their writhing centipede hearts engorged, aroused, and feeling the air for the next last crumb of more. What does it mean that all our cemeteries and condominiums are same-named: Woodland, Riverside, Aspen Grove, Evergreen Days. We are

everywhere these days, William, and yet utterly lost.
Ever yours.



Publisher’s Note:

“Extinction Rebellion protesters dragged from Tube train roof” at BBC.com (News: 17 October 2019):

Keith Woodruff
Issue 3, May 2020

lives in Ohio, and has a Masters in poetry/creative writing from Purdue University. His poetry and flash fiction have appeared in Poetry East, Quarter After Eight, The Journal, Juked, Wigleaf, and RHINO. His prose poem “Summer” appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2017 anthology, his short-short story “Elegy” received a 2018 Pushcart Prize, and his flash fiction “Dog as Battlefield” appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2019. He is currently working on a chapbook collection.

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