“Ohio Landscape Poem Without xxxx” by Jessica Cory

"Ohio Landscape Poem Without xxxx"

Is it possible to write a landscape 
poem of Ohio sans that plant 
which should be knee-high
by the 4th of July, its kernels

ready to pop, miniature suns
bursting forth from beneath 
their green sheaths? They are
showy, bedecked with tassels,

choreographing burlesque routines, 
shimmying with the straight-
line winds, breaths from the west.

To write a poem about the land-
scape of Ohio sans the fields,
one might have to focus 
instead on the creeks, murky

flows rolling toward rivers—Scioto, 
Miami, tainted by the farmer’s runoff
and oh no, that brings us back  
to the flint, the dent, the sweet, that plant

blowing with gusto into mouths
that refuse to speak its name. 

Jessica Cory teaches at Western Carolina University and is a PhD candidate specializing in Native American, African American, and environmental literature at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is the editor of Mountains Piled upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene (WVU Press, 2019) and the co-editor (with Laura Wright) of Appalachian Ecocriticism and the Paradox of Place (UGA Press, 2023). Her creative and scholarly writings have been published in the North Carolina Literary Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Northern Appalachia Review, and other fine publications. Originally from southeastern Ohio, she currently lives in Sylva, North Carolina. You can find her online at https://www.jessicascory.com/, on Twitter and IG as @ecobooklover, and as Jessica Cory on Facebook.