Chelsea Harlan

Paul Bunyan’s Beauty Secrets

There will be no thunderstorms tomorrow
for the first time since the last time
that happened. Let me talk to Paul Bunyan,

I know he is there I can see him a mile,
no, ten miles, away. The inarguable best thing
about being big is that your vision includes more

of the future and of what’s coming ahead
at you at the speed of life on fire, light
sashaying like a flirt between the clouds.

But there will be no thunderstorms
anymore so I sleep outside just fine
trusting that the brawny giant will watch me

as he watches all small things stirring
on mulch mattresses. Bunyan and his Babe
make a researcher out of me in that

I have to look up. At his enormous feet
I am praying and looking up whispering
how good a practical joke God is

or isn’t, how humorous my hubris.
And Bunyan bays, low, loud: “Climb up
the rungs in the folds of my denim

I can’t hear you way down on the ground.”
I shimmy up his boot, his rolled ankle
overalls. I ascend Bunyan’s torso until

I am in thigh-high wading in his chest hairs
which are actual cattails. On his shoulder
there is a chair. I sit and stare at his profile.

He tells me, “There will be no thunderstorms
tomorrow or the next day. Have a look
for yourself. See how we are moving

standing still.” Before me the fields sunbathe,
yawning, opening up like an unlicked envelope.
 Chelsea Harlan grew up in Appalachian Virginia but lives in Brooklyn now, with everyone else. She recently completed an architectural intensive at Columbia University and is currently applying for an MFA in poetry. Her collaborative book of poems “Cowboy Coffee” premiered at the NY Art Book Fair 2014 at MoMA PS1. More stuff here.

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