Naila Moreira

by Naila Moreira


She has drunk hemlock all winter,
intimacy with earth.
Ponderous, slow-footed, she rises,
black magma, a boulder

rolled onto these fields:
quill pig, cumbersome hump of herbs
and twigs, rump
rigid, a mountain of spines

to tell an earthly fortune.
First green prickles from the sod.
More ancient myth heaves stout
and brown, chunk of turf

fed on years of roots and bark,
walking wilderness, keeping its pace,
patient, toilsome,
knitting a pattern, clicking needles

to purl the seasons,
snipping life’s green threads
to knot the years.
Goblet of time, bitter brown

ale long fermented, to nourish this cauldron
who speaks without speaking
a longer truth
while clouds shred themselves on the wind.


Fat purse of greens,
it anchors the hillside
as new-minted goldfinches
jingle by.
Placid as a heifer,
it snips early grass.
Fortress of spines,
it stays put
guarding a darkness,
a greenness, a sweetness.
Pines upspike
from the valley.
All this wildness
embeds itself
in one bristling dot,
ledger’s entry
in a bank of forest,
of the truest economy.


Old girl
in your coat of mail
you shuffle
the ancient bed,
as needle as the needle underfoot;
you batten on wood and frond,
on nut, on grass, on fruit,
you swallow the wrinkled apples of time.

O, girl,
no one bothers you –
they are afraid, you are too strong,
crone of the forest, slow mover,
bow-backed, snow waddler,
sorceress of stone and tree.
You heft a whole universe of fears
in each lead-tipped spine.

Only one beast can kill you,
quicksilver, liquid night.
When he comes, you face him
but you go:
belly up, hollowed out,
a shell of the world
too tired to carry any longer
this heaviness, these extraordinary chains.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 3.

Naila MoreiraNaila Moreira teaches at Smith College and has been writer in residence at the Shoals Marine Laboratory, Maine, and Forbes Library, Massachusetts. Her second chapbook, “Water Street” (Finishing Line Press, 2017) won the New England Poetry Club Jean Pedrick Prize, and she has published poetry in literary journals including the Connecticut River Review, Poet’s Touchstone, Cape Rock, and a range of others. Her debut middle grade novel is forthcoming from Walker Books US in spring 2022.

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