Heather Treseler

Two poems from Heather Treseler’s Petrichor

followed by a note on the author


All strut and gibbering, wattles and caruncles,
tom turkeys parade at dusk, panoply
of feathers fanned, snoods

engorged and dangling over their sharpened
beaks while their heads turn from red
to white to blue in tricolor

blush, pulsing placards above their sexual taxis.
Hens, loitering in shade, graze acorns
and the occasional grub, an eye

cocked, nonplussed. They’ve seen this all before.
Ben Franklin thought the fowl “vain
& silly” but respectable, more

American than the thieving eagle. Hens sense
that courtship, like government, rarely
is as dainty as ballet of bowerbirds.

And of the preening toms? Who hasn’t felt
the need to wear a brighter face for love
or war? At dusk, they flock

to the wooded edge of town. (And mate, quietly,
on ground.) Then, one-by-one, take running
starts, wings pumping,

and like battered 747s ascend to perch on spiky
feet, nestling along limbs longer than
their own. Small miracle, how

they vault their twenty pounds of poult in air
as after a day of too many hours:
uphill, the last set of stairs.

Galliformes, sharp-sighted by day, are night blind
prey. My predator is my dark. After love,
I, too, sleep on a second story.



Anne Sexton

Suburbs, like brassieres, shape and contain
their contents, wire under lace, seemliness

and seams along the wildness of woods except

for the renegade deer or tom turkey who struts
straight down the thoroughfare. Suburbs, like

musical theater, lend everyone role and song

in sitcoms between commercials. The point
is repetition. The point is novelty, delimited

to the height of a privet hedge, a hidden affair.

How stark, the coordinate machines of the city,
its concrete floors and carapaces of new money.

Whereas suburbs are seersucker and silk hose,

demitasse or highballs on the shaded porch.
In the bedroom, late afternoons, I watch

crenellations of light mount the ceiling, take

its white blankness, hungrily. Cotton sheets
accept the skin of a woman surviving her

despair who broils a Sunday roast, prattles

behind a pram, fusses about collar starch
and geraniums while she writes of her

madness, masturbation, men, menstruation.

The point of the living room is stilled life.
The point of the kitchen is producing for

the reproducing. But I am the feral creature

who wanders the street, peering in windows
wide-eyed, alert, not a stitch under her skirt.



Wildlife first appeared in the W. B. Yeats Society Bulletin; Anne Sexton first appeared in Harvard Review.

Heather Treseler earned her BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University and her PhD in English from the University of Notre Dame. A professor of English at Worcester State University, she is also a resident scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. Her chapbook, Parturition (2020), received the international chapbook award from the Munster Literature Centre in Ireland and the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize from the New England Poetry Club, and her poems appear in The American Scholar, The Iowa Review, and PN Review, among other journals; her essays appear in eight books and in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Harvard Review, and Boston Review. Her poem Wildlife was chosen for the W. B. Yeats Prize (2021) by Spencer Reece, and her poem Chase Street was selected by Warsan Shire as a finalist for The Moth Poetry Prize (2022). Her sequence The Lucie Odes won The Missouri Review‘s Editors’ Prize in Poetry (2019). She lives along the Charles River outside of Boston.