Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer.
Our guest editor is Wendy Brown-Baez
When I heard Janna Knittel read from her chapbook, I was impressed by a delicate yet fierce celebration of the natural world. Janna is one of those poets who can write beautiful lines in the moment. Janna often writes with gorgeous imagery, pointing to the beauty that is found in what is close, simple, and ordinary, and offering us a new perspective to see that it is actually extraordinary, infused with the mystery of life itself, and precious.
In Janna’s poem I find myself relating to the contrasts between feeling lost through a painful separation from place or the destruction of wild places and realizing one is not lost as long as you are surrounded by the natural world: the wider space or home we have to seek out deliberately. The last two lines moved me with their affirmation of empowerment. We have what we need when we look within past the pain to what belongs to us and is part of us, just as the woods provides shelter and beauty when we need solace.
On the Trail
You could cry into your rucksack now
you’ve eaten all the chocolate, lost
the trail. You are not lost: You are inside
Deschutes National Forest. The parking lot
is lost. The sky is hot, hotter than ever
you remember. Maiden Lake wore
a skirt of dried mud laced with algae. You cry
because you’ve lost the home you always knew,
thought you would reclaim. Fire chewed through
last summer and the summer before. The sun
punishes; you still follow its fist to measure
time, tell east from west. On a fallen log
within a mountain hemlock’s shadow, rest
your back. Unpack. Repack: Water, map,
trail mix, your sister’s love, three west coast friends
despite 20 years away, three friends
in the heartland. You’re not on your knees.
You’re strong enough to carry everything you need.
Janna Knittel lives in Minnesota but grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Janna’s publications include a chapbook, Fish & Wild Life (Finishing Line Press, 2018), and poems forthcoming in Between these Shores Literary and Arts Annual and Constellations, as well as previously published in Blueline, Cottonwood, Up North Lit, North Dakota Quarterly, Split Rock Review, Cold Mountain Review, Whale Road Review, The Wild Word, and Waters Deep: A Great Lakes Anthology. Recognition includes 2021 and 2019 grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board. And forthcoming this fall, from Nodin Press, is Janna’s poetry collection Real Work.