The Resonance Around Us

by Penny Harter

As we walk through this field, coarse grasses
vibrate around our ankles. Listen, we are already
in the sky, its rising glissando trembling in the
hollows of our bones—our bones that might be
wind chimes hanging from the trees, clattering
like a hard rain.

Tonight it will snow, each crystal a tuning fork
for the other, each of our upturned faces echoing
the quiet ticking flakes that home on us.

Even those things we deem silent—dead weeds
nodding by the barn, the piles the horses drop
as they drift through the pasture, steam rising
from each before it cools—even these
are singing in their spheres.

Listen, and you might hear the choir of atoms,
those unseen constellations that make flesh,
flickering on and off as they resonate with
the dead who float beside us, their substance
oscillating faster than we apprehend.

Just now some bird that knows the notes
of twilight opened its beak to offer a brief
harmony, and as the dark descends in solemn
chords, a chorus of plum clouds begins to hum
on Earth’s horizon.

Penny Harter is published widely in journals and anthologies, and her literary autobiography appears as an extended essay in Contemporary Authors. Her recent journal publications include poems in Tiferet, The Valparaiso Poetry ReviewRattleRose Red Review, and Umbrella. Her twenty-two books and chapbooks include One Bowl (a prizewinning e-book of haibun, 2012); Recycling Starlight (2010); The Beastie Book, an illustrated alphabestiary (2009); and The Night Marsh (2008). Two new collections, The Great Blue and The Resonance Around Us, are forthcoming from Mountains and Rivers Press. A featured reader at the 2010 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, she has won three poetry fellowships from the NJSCA; the Mary Carolyn Davies Award from the Poetry Society of America; the first William O. Douglas Nature Writing Award for her work in the anthology American Nature Writing 2002; and a fellowship from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts for a residency during January, 2011. For more information, please visit her blog at and/or web site at