b. December 10, 2010, Pablo, MT
Scrap, small leaving of a night and its wild biology
hound-bodies unfenced and wrought-up, sly coupling
of the junkyard, car a rusted crib, weed-bound hulk of comfort for
one, two, three, and then
you, mewling mess of kinked ears and blood, pink pads, the echo
of a million years in your bones. Winter-born you were
stubborn for life’s sake, nested with your brothers, suckling hard
milk from just a pup herself, rag of the reservation.
The world opened around you and your body began:
let me want, and let want be only a kind of joy-to-be.
Dawn-riser, marionette of no one, you run
for specters—the herd, the hunt—for the sheer
grand hell of it, for sleep swift and deep, for the toothsome
treasures of the field you’ll dig to your haunches
and for coolness, a crater in the willows. Half-breed, halved
and halved again until what are you but entirely
yourself, willful beguiler, what else but dog clear through?
Watchful and stubborn still, remnants of that thin beginning
and the savvy of genes, what grace bred in us both
brings you to my hand? Marrow-memory
of the cold so close. Shared breath warning off the dark.
–Excerpt from Waking the Bones.
Late Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.
Melissa Mylchreest: Myth, found objects, animals, and human nature roaming wild landscapes.
LNL: If this book were the lovechild of two others, who are its parents?
MM: The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir by Richard Hugo, and some ancient, oral, long-forgotten story that was never written down.
LNL: What ingredients go into the recipe of your writing style?
MM: Wonderment. Woodsmoke. High wind. Compassion. Rural America. Salmon, bears, dogs, horses, and birds of all kinds. Ponderosas and oaks. Trucks, chainsaws, and coffee. Fragility and fierceness. The human animal. Oceans and rivers. Women and men. Old knowledge from around the world.
LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.
MM: Perma Red, by Debra Magpie Earling.
LNL: Answer a question you wish people would ask you about writing.
MM: What do you hope to accomplish by writing poems? All of my poems ultimately have one goal: to gesture towards that which is inexplicable—literally, the parts of life and the world that we struggle to explain using language. Words are such an inadequate, clumsy tool, but they’re the best we have, and sometimes they can shed a little light.
Get a copy of Waking the Bones at IndieBound.
Melissa Mylchreest was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, and moved to Montana in 2006. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing (poetry and nonfiction) from the University of Montana, as well as an MS in Environmental Studies. In addition to the Brunsman prize, she has received the 2012 Merriam-Frontier Award for writing, a 2008 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize for Poetry, the Obsidian Prize for Poetry in both 2011 and 2012 from High Desert Journal, and a residency at the Hall Farm Arts Center. She lives in Missoula.