This week’s poem, Matthew Bernier’s “Unplowed Land,” begins with a dog’s discovery and ends with a surprisingly beautiful image of a dead star-nosed mole. I love how tenderly the speaker describes the mole’s wounded body, as well as the remarkable empathy he brings to imagining the creature’s last moments alive.

Bernier works professionally as a civil and environmental engineer, restoring sea-run fish including endangered Atlantic salmon to Maine rivers through projects like dam removals. His poem “The Day Mary Oliver Died” won the Margaret F. Tripp Poetry award for Joy of the Pen, the online literary journal of the Topsham Public Library. He lives in Pittsfield.


Unplowed Land

By Matthew Bernier



My dog stops, drops and rolls in an unmown field

as though the world is on fire, curly goldendoodle

fur smeared and matted with broken grass and duff

like an unsheared sheep’s fleece greasy with lanolin,


and I don’t want to walk back and look, but recall


that the unexamined life is not worth living so I

stride several steps and see the remains of a small

star-nosed mole, tiny claws curved in a death grip


of something unseen, mortally wounded by a hawk,

coat unraveling like a pencil sketch being erased,


gentle smile preserved as though still in wonder of

its brief flight and aerial views of unplowed land.


Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Unplowed Land” copyright © 2022 by Matthew Bernier, appears by permission of the author.

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