Voices of the Tongass - The Contingencies of Chance

Today brings another poetry episode of Voices of the Tongass. Berett Wilber's collection of poetry,Lesser Known Marine Mammal's Lesser Known Love Songs, is inspired by her life in Southeast Alaska. To hear Berett read hear poem, TheContingencies of Chance, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Photo by Berett Wilber

the contingencies of chance

where does the outside end?

when the air enters your lungs?

in the beds of your fingernails?


let yourself feel



up against the edges

of your skin, fear

will rip your lungs into sails,

tear down the lines between things and


collapse you.

breathe yourself in:

the scent of lilacs at night,

the silver of the river at our ankles:

the oxygen in your blood is

already just air

and so you are

already just everywhere.


we are vessels, pitchers, open bowls

and the sheer strain of living

tears holes in us

that we cannot repair ourselves.

we can only fill each other:

give yourself away.

(you become hollow if you

board yourself up

if the walls inside of you echo,

splinter through them).


the tiny sutures of your eyes,

your voice: rope yourself to the world.

it will stain you irreparably and you

will build yourself into it,

stretching spindly bridges

until they crumble and fall.


in the moments

where you have to strip back the paper

of your walls, and

raze the scaffolding of your life

to the ground -


curse if you must.

but if you would like to keep yourself alive,

open your mouth

and pour yourself out.


the world will never demand less of you.


we were not meant to stand empty for long.

Listen here:

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