What Survives

There will be sweat at the back of your neck
seven months out of the year. That’s true,

that and an ugly history too. At least, in the South,
the Ice Age never quite passed through.

I can say that while glaciers scraped the North
clean, here there was only a little winter.

From the warm, deep dirt that remained,
plantations’ fruitage came.

Then their produce, poverty. It’s still fresh.
But a great diversity survived,

of animal species, I mean. Our mud is home
to half the mussels on the continent.

Those fine beings filter tainted water.
While the country’s sole cavefish swims

unbiased nearby, with no color, no eye.

Rose McLarney has published two collections of poems, Its Day Being Gone (Penguin Books, 2014) and The Always Broken Plates of Mountains (Four Way Books, 2012). Its Day Being Gone was a 2013 National Poetry Series winner. She has been awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and Warren Wilson College; and won the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ New Writing Award for Poetry and Alligator Juniper’s 2011 National Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in publications including The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, Missouri Review, Green Mountains Review, and dozens of other journals. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers and is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Auburn University, and the Poetry Editor of The Southern Humanities Review.