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poetry After the Press Conference

“Truth is we know when someone’s lying,” says the poet Hayden Saunier about some press conference. Then what do we do about it?

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After the Press Conference

By Hayden Saunier

I’m back outside, hands deep in dirt and dirt’s

the only thing that’s telling truth today.

O.K. I overstate. Dirt’s not the only thing

that’s telling truth. My hands, in fact, aren’t in

the dirt—I’m wearing gloves, the woven fabric

kind coated in synthetic rubber polymers

which is the truth because I looked it up

and took that definition from two independent

scientific sources, but it’s not a truth I know

the way I know how to wrench and cleave

a plant into pieces with a sharp spade,

garden fork, and fixed knife blade.

We call this propagation by division.

I loosen roots with my gloved hands, dirt

being all that holds their threads together.

Dirt: from, or cognate with, a half dozen

Middle English, Old Dutch, Proto-Indo-European,

and Norwegian words for excrement.

This dirt is mid-Atlantic farm dirt flecked

with mica, shale, leaf mold, fungi, and the shit

of four Sicilian donkeys and a Shetland pony.

Truth is we know when someone’s lying.

Truth is we know when we pretend we don’t know

someone’s lying, when we let the lie go, take the money.

This dirt’s not telling truth, it isn’t saying anything.

Except: this shit’s not complicated and: we’re in it now.

Hayden Saunier is the author of several books of poetry, and her work has been awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize, Rattle Poetry Prize and Gell Poetry Award. Her most recent book, A Cartography of Home, was published in 2021 See also