Traci Brimhall


Traci Brimhall is the author of four collections of poetry: Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), Saudade (Copper Canyon Press, 2017); Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton, 2012), and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010). Her children’s book, Sophia & The Boy Who Fell, was published by SeedStar Books in March 2017. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, and New England Review, among others. Some of her work has also been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Best of the Net, PBS Newshour, and Best American Poetry 2013 & 2014. She has also received the Just Desserts Short Fiction Prize from Passages North, the Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction from Bellingham Review, and a Pushcart Prize, among many other awards.  She holds degrees from Florida State University (BA), Sarah Lawrence College (MFA), and Western Michigan University (PhD). She works as an Associate Professor and Director of Creative Writing at Kansas State University. Source

Oh Wonder

It’s the garden spider who eats her mistakes

at the end of day so she can billow in the lung

of night, dangling from an insecure branch 


or caught on the coral spur of a dove’s foot

and sleep, her spinnerets trailing radials like

ungathered hair. It’s a million pound cumulus. 


It’s the stratosphere, holding it, miraculous. It’s

a mammatus rolling her weight through dusk

waiting to unhook and shake free the hail. 


Sometimes it’s so ordinary it escapes your notice—

pothos reaching for windows, ease of an avocado

slipping its skin. A porcelain boy with lamp-black 


eyes told me most mammals have the same average

number of heartbeats in a lifetime. It is the mouse

engine that hums too hot to last. It is the blue whale’s 


slow electricity—six pumps per minute is the way

to live centuries. I think it’s also the hummingbird

I saw in a video lifted off a cement floor by firefighters 


and fed sugar water until she was again a tempest.

It wasn’t when my mother lay on the garage floor

and my brother lifted her while I tried to shout louder 


than her sobs. But it was her heart, a washable ink.

It was her dark’s genius, how it moaned slow enough

to outlive her. It is the orca who pushes her dead calf 


a thousand miles before she drops it or it falls apart.

And it is also when she plays with her pod the day

after. It is the night my son tugs at his pajama 


collar and cries: The sad is so big I can’t get it all out,

and I behold him, astonished, his sadness as clean

and abundant as spring. His thunder-heart, a marvel 


I refuse to invade with empathy. And outside, clouds

groan like gods, a garden spider consumes her home.

It’s knowing she can weave it tomorrow between 


citrus leaves and earth. It’s her chamberless heart

cleaving the length of her body. It is lifting my son

into my lap to witness the birth of his grieving.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:


Death & Loss



Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie

Interrupted Clause

a word group (a statement, question, or exclamation) that interrupts the flow of a sentence and is usually set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”


A stanza of three lines of verse that rhyme together or are connected by rhyme with an adjacent stanza.

Transferred Epithet

When an adjective usually used to describe one thing is transferred to another.