Apprentice to the American Beaver (Castor canadensis)

by Alessandra Simmons

“A beaver resembles a cucumber with a short stem, or a duck with the neck & head cut off, or a ball of yarn, flattened a little.” -Adriaen van der Donck, 1645

It is said the castor
is a kettle, a hatchet,
a loaf of bread.
Enchanted Christians
with fish-tasting tails,
I am your punishment
for knowing too much.
A taste for timber,
you knot rivers, build
strings of tumid jewels. With deer,
wolves, poplar, I coppice
on your banks.
Hunger bright
in their jaw, your sons
& daughters listen for water.
Listen for the snap
of a ready tree.
You toil, court,
instruct & I listen,
see the trees
dragged from their
grave markers,
wish for axe so muscular,
a night so sleepless.


Alessandra Simmons is a PhD student at UW-Milwaukee in English, Creative Writing. Her poems have appeared in The Other Journal, WomenArts Quarterly, Post Road, Limestone and other journals. Her current obsessions are ringneck snakes and paddleboarding. She interviews working writers on her blog:

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One response to “Apprentice to the American Beaver (Castor canadensis)

  1. Pingback: Apprentice to the American Beaver (Castor canadensis) — Hawaii Pacific Review | au.GrahamBrecker

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