Karla Linn Merrifield

Spring Disptych: Lessons in Evolution

Twin butterflies twist
out of a single cocoon–
spring booms on their wings.

Mergansers in flight
over the lake this morning,
sun gathers its flocks…

Karla Linn Merrifield’s poems draw inspiration from the natural environment to subtly discuss human nature. During springtime, animals, plants, and humans respond to the powerful imperative to grow. In this majestic project that involves all, each role is put into perspective.

In this intense poetic diptych, Karla celebrates the evolutive capacity of nature. During springtime, flora and fauna propagate. It is a prolific expansion, a fractal growth that affects all living things. Spring Disptych: Lessons in Evolution captures the multiplication of different life forms.

The first composition is dedicated exclusively to animals and plants responding to spring’s call. Two identical butterflies emerge from the same cocoon; mergansers flutter across the lake’s mirror-like surface; hemlocks extend their branches like touching fingers; bees move industriously, producing honey. It is spring: time to awaken and fulfil the promise of life. Karla depicts these buzzing and dynamic ecosystems involving all the elements in air, water, and earth.

In the second poem, Karla alludes to human beings, treating them for what they are: animals. Even humans in spring feel the same primordial urgency for renewal. In this moment of interconnectedness, the poet physically empathizes with the rest of the environment: she merges with the damp moss; she imagines herself like starfish in the sand; she hides like a spider in the gutters. In this exercise of empathy, the human learns the most important lesson: to recognize oneself as a lesser being, a small retiring entity subject to the cycles of nature, like all others.

Spring Disptych: Lessons in Evolution is a poem conceived by Karla on a vivid Florida morning, sitting in her canvas camp chair under an oak tree, but it does not lack analysis. It is a diptych that undermines the anthropocentric conception of human beings, accepting their fragile, changing, relative existence.

Karla’s style is also eclectic. The author plays with words, like a pianist, experimenting with both humourous and soulful tones, ever-changing registers and metrics. Even in the vocabulary, the author demonstrates her ability to range over different domains, showing zoological and botanical accuracy and defining nature as precisely as possible.

Though expressing with a more modern tone, her poetic description of nature brings her close to great masters of the past, such as Pablo Neruda, who captured the vital summer explosion in a few lines, or Charles Baudelaire, who saw in nature a ‘forest of symbols.’

Spring Disptych: Lessons in Evolution is just one of many poems by Karla Linn Merrifield, who has more than 1000 poems and 16 published books to her credit. Her newest poetry collection was recently nominated for the 2022 National Book Award. A frequent contributor to literary journals, Karla Linn Merrifield’s style is constantly self-reflecting and evolving, but there is always something visceral in her words

Karla Linn Merrifield is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Spring call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Spring issue.


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