The Fourth Leaf

by Jami Macarty

standing in the trees the color of fatigues someone wholly addled
draws his pocket knife           cuts cedar limb from cedar tree

          whittles the bark from the bow
                                                whittles wood to waster

where violets dress the undergrowth hell-tangle
Piper palms moss
                                        her knees turned mauve

          for a sunny noneconomical find: a four-leafed clover

verdant minutes unfold

under his addled gaze Piper twirls
                                        the clover stem greening possibility

a suddenness dishevels her                    descends air around her
                                        heavy with more and again

formerly leaf-hidden white-throated sparrows
                                                                            flock off

           do not look back or reverse path

one all-black afternoonbird calls: law law law

                                           but the bird is only
               is bird no protector’s there to hear

before the quarry wads up              before the dredging

before the only bird stirs                 before this only bird’s

coughed fish returns dead marked by bites

Piper’s there when we and our friends swim the quarry in the luck of summer

Jami Macarty gratefully recognizes Native Nations of the West—especially the Coast Salish and Tohono O’odham—as the traditional and rightful owners of lands where she has the great privilege to live and learn—as a teacher at Simon Fraser University, an independent editor, and a writer of essays, reviews, and poetry. Jami is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by the confidence of editors at literary magazines such as The Capilano Review, Colorado Review, Ocean State Review, Puerto del Sol, and the anthologies Cascadia Zen and Rumors Secrets & Lies, where Jami’s poems are forthcoming. More info: