Meridian Johnson

Here and There

I seldom take the change.
But next time I will. Every penny or two
for little hands wanting a purse full of treasures.
Now that my daughter is growing lithe,
her voice stretches to meet the wind.
Beginning to speak is like this—
we’re transferred through words to the lake.
Fur ball from the black cat heading
in that direction too. All the water flowing
from these hills into that basin. On to
the sea. From here, how many miles?
A thousand pitchforks triggered
in the mind. A million strands of hay
drying in the barn. Hair matted in the plastic brush.
Why bother pretending these things
are easily separated.


First published by Yes Press, May 2008

Meridian Johnson is the author of Kinesthesia (New Rivers Press 2010). Her poems and essays have appeared in AGNI, Borderlands, Beloit Poetry Journal, Dislocate, Gettysburg Review, Massachusetts’s Review, NPR’s On Being and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in English from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Her website is

“Poetry matters, because it kept some of my ancestors alive during difficult times in eastern Europe and is probably why I am here today. Because it has kept me alive in moments of stress when I had no idea that I knew my poems by heart. Poetry is a resource that lifts the spirit of a person or an entire people and makes them remember why they are alive.”