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Saunas – Jane Piirto

Saunas – Jane Piirto
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Saunas - Jane Piirto
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Poetry. Paper, perfect bound, 100 pp.
$15.95 plus s&h
2008, ISBN 978-0932412-645

From the frozen landscapes of her Finnish forebears to the ice-clear rivers and cold fields of Michigan’s Upper Pennisula, Jane Piirto paints a personal and extraordinary picture. These deeply moving poems are like chants celebrating what sustains us, reminding us of the wonder and mystery in the everyday.


Trespassing
by Jane Piirto

          “Rocks in the middle of the river/
          Boulders on the crest of the foam.”

                    Runo 40, Kaleval

No Trespassing
No Hunting/ No Fishing
Danger: Blasting
Private Property
By Order of
Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company

Duck beneath the warnings,
walk 2 miles on heaved blacktop
to photograph the pile’s inevitable invasion.

Frogs fly, bellyflop beneath our feet
as we wade through rutted puddles
on the flooded road,
bury their splayed heads in mud,
as if we could not see their lump of flesh.

The sound of monster trucks backing up
—beep beep! —penetrates the rustle.
Echoed motors shift to climbing gear,
overwhelming the soft wind from the clear lake
through teeth of ferns and thimbleberries.

Maples, oaks, the whirr of bees
the clack of grasshoppers. A fly strafes.
A mosquito perches, graceful, drinks my blood.
A hornet sinks its stinger
into my index finger.

Infused over all here the clank of trucks,
silhouettes on the anomalous horizon,
dumping offal from conveyer belts.
They magnetize the ore into pellets.
Earth turned inside out to yield
a garden of iron.

Across the lake, the barren red
truck-created mountain,
a landfill without odor or gulls,
pebbled, bouldered cliffs so steep
mountain goats nor llamas could not get foot.
Beyond that skyline the gouged pit extends
for twenty miles, its deep bottom
beneath the altitude of Lake Superior,
in stacked ribbons of magenta and stark gray.

God, how can the sun shine
without regard and innocent
on this green watery foreground,
while in the background all devastation
proclaims the necessary victory of mines?


Jane Piirto is a native of Ishpeming, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to which all four of her grandparents emigrated from Finland. She is Trustees’ Distinguished Professor at Ashland University in Ohio.