Essay in EcoTheo Review

A short excerpt from my essay “Convergence” from the Summer 2022 issue of EcoTheo Review:

“The Gila River—opaque as butterscotch and laced with agricultural runoff—is ornamented with styrofoam cups, discarded truck tires and diapers engorged with river water. The vegetation is thick so it’s easiest to move in the river. I slide down the slick bank past the prints of a black bear whose movements I echo. 

The calf-deep water is cool and ripples shimmy away from my footsteps like the fish that curl into eddies as I walk downstream. The Gila is one of the longest western rivers. Not so long ago, I could have floated from the headwaters in New Mexico through to  the Gulf of California in a kayak or raft. Now, water is siphoned off into agriculture fields, reservoirs and canals that turn the Gila into a trickle halfway through its 500-mile journey towards the Colorado River. By the time it reaches this valley southeast of Phoenix, the Gila, whose headwaters are often called the birthplace of wilderness, is no more than an intermittent stream. My hiking boots saturate and sand fills their mesh as I wade, listening to the slur of my steps mix with the ensemble of birds calling along the river’s corridor. Under the shaded arbor of tamarisk, I pause. I am quiet. Sometimes you can only find a thing by being still.”

To read the full essay, purchase the issue (or subscribe!) by clicking here.

Two Summer Publications: Camas & Pidgeonholes

POINT COUNTS AND SHIFTING BASELINES
in Camas Magazine

Photograph of the magazine cover with a painting of a Joshua Tree against a bright blue background.

Can we celebrate the wild just beyond the doorstep without conflating it with the wildness of places far from any doors? If we expect the wild to adapt to our cities and our lifestyles, where do we adapt to theirs. We must leave space and silence and open places for them to build their own nests, make their own paths through the desert, and communicate with each other in whisper songs.

Purchase the issue to read in full

THE FIRST TIME in Pidgeonholes

“He sounds like one of the mice that live in the house I will move to the first time I try to leave him, the ones I will set hard metal traps for in the kitchen. I will hear the bitter snap and squeak of them at night when I try to fall asleep but instead replay a recent conversation in which he tells me I am easy to love.”

Read the full piece online

Image of a gray concrete building with a white curtain blowing out of an open window. Over this image is the following text: Nonfiction. THE FIRST TIME by Nell Smith.

New Publication: What Happened on December 21st, 2019: A Retrospective

New words up today on Essay Daily!

…I had been working on an essay about fragments: fragments of bone, fragments of light, and what the space between these fragments can embody. I’m learning to pay attention to these spaces. A lot can happen in the subtext, in the distance between things, in the space of what is left out, in the time between December 21st and March 16th…

Read the full essay

New Publication: Tidal Desert

Published this week in the lovely Winter issue of Hawk & Whippoorwill

TIDAL DESERT

…Because I could descend
in the chasm of dissolution
between the layers of sandstone
to where life is pressed like petals,

I began to sense the land’ s lungs
beneath the soil, see the hardness of the desert
and understand that here,
life is not to be presumed…

continue reading

New Publication: Grafting

Published in the Spring/Summer issue of the Aurorean

 

GRAFTING

Among high ponderosas in Arizona,

I remember Maine’s white pines—

how after climbing them,

their clear sap drew pieces of that homeland

straight into my hands….

 

Read the full poem by subscribing/ordering from the Aurorean.