Simmons B. Buntin is the founding editor of Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments.


Catch up with Simmons B. Buntin at www.SimmonsBuntin.com.


Contributor Notes

Simmons B. Buntin

Simmons B. Buntin

Simmons B. Buntin

On the Orchard’s Edge



I search for something, a glimpse

            like a tulip red will-o-wisp,

that has just been found. On the dry


floor of apple leaves, his breast leaps out

like a salmon climbing rapids, tiny feet

clench an invisible branch, stained


glass eyes are now broken.

As I bow, hands cupped, to lift

the light body, dark snakes slide


through the grass, tasting the rosy scent

of death, and glide toward the living bird

that is my hand. I flutter


the broken wings of my fingers and watch,

with chickadee and grackle alike,

as my grosbeak enters the unhinged chapel


of snake’s fragile jaw. I feel the terrible

way in which the gray grass slowly

unbends and the black ribbons twist


upon my hand, numb between the leaves. 

I feel the breached blood from my wrist

drain into the bird and the muted


chorus of life in the thirsty air. 

And somewhere farther back, a low

and empty song—the widowed mate,


my other desolate hand.




Her Mission of Light



Seven months after the death of my mother,
the corpulent C-130s circling the air base

remind me how, when she was nine,
the Swedish girl they called matchstick legs

(who could sprint the sandy length
of seaside lane in record time) first heard

and then saw the Nazi bombers
in their razor-tight formations scraping

the low chin of the horizon, en route
to Norway and dark England beyond.

She too passed like a recondite
mission, whispering from 17,000 feet,

a near-anonymous entry into the endless log
of the world’s migrations. Sixty-one years

later, I take the vacant road past
the base’s back gate, along the brilliantly

destructive rows of F-4s and A-10s,
with their own secret missions to


Vietnam and Bosnia and Iraq, places
she could have lived in her 1950s

migration to America—places like the vast
and abundant plains of Rhodesia or

the golden avenues of Naples and Rome.
The street here is not glowing, nor

full of life. But it leads to the blue
hills beyond the river, and from there

the scarlet cliffs of the Santa Catalinas
and sometimes, as now, the light off a curving

wing catches and holds the mountains and clouds
and, higher still, a vapor trail to the heavens.





The Last Harvest



She was taught that river systems

tree branches & veins are all mathematically


equivalent  That a skein of geese

is directed by the electromagnetic pull


of iron within the earth’s core

That the brilliant wash of a sunset &


the enlargement of the harvest moon are due

simply to condensed particulates


in the atmosphere  She was taught this

& believed it but wanted to learn further


why the geese shining in flight like a string

of pearls know the line of Old Hansen’s


ranch the harvest moon lies swollen

against the starless sky & the dying


sun flares longest before the frozen night

Why the cottonwood’s branches reach


highest above hidden stones

the Colorado’s tributaries course dry


through her father’s fields & the blue-red blood

in her mother’s veins does not move at all