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Manifest Destiny

Arielle Fischer

Based on the painting “American Progress” by John Gast. 


She refuses to wait at bated breath—  

a tempest howling for a meal. 


She is hungry for earth,  

for sky, 

for sea,  

for all this world can give. 


She guzzled the crisp water scraping mountainsides;  

gulped murky mud swelling in tidepools. 


Violets and daffodils crushed by her gaping maw;  

pine and birch wailed in her grip. 


Desert winds inhaled into her lungs, exhaled as smoke.  

Once-towering grasslands softened into pulp and cattle fodder. 

For she eats  

and she eats,  

and she eats. 


In her wake, she left only promises and pride, 

spoiling red rock with white lies of green.  


Finally, she arrives,  

belly full of Gaia and Demeter. 

Lying upon the coast for respite, 


a slick, silver tongue laps Pacific salt from her lips. 

Her breath, a perfume of chestnut and sequoia and oak as 

she plucks copper wedged between her gold teeth.  


Around her, a world awakens as another crumbles.  

A world of greed and prosper gulping down 

a world of beauty and freedom. 

For she devours, 

and she conquers, 

then, she sings. 


This land is not your land, this land is my land. 

From California to the New York Island. 

From the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters. 

This land was made for only me. 

Fall 2023

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