flood patterns poems by jessica gigot

picture of jessica gigot

Photograph by Dean Luce


The poems in Jessica Gigot’s Flood Patterns vividly depict a lowland place and its people in the farthest northwest corner of the country. As Kevin Craft writes, “The poems are informed by the determined if contested optimism of someone who knows the ground she walks on and its potential to yield both bounty and treachery.” He goes on to say, “We discover the perishable joys and stubborn sadnesses of farm life, family life, writing life, even as each poem edges through unpredictable weather to unearth a hopeful patience, resilient and alert. Like rocks in a tumbler, these poems release ‘rhythm and rage / From their time at sea,’ emerging with the luster of hard-won truth.” And this from Jeanne Murray Walker: “In this debut collection, Jessica Gigot, farmer, scientist, and poet, writes about her territory, the Skagit River Valley. Her poetry is plainspoken, restrained, and entirely believable. Bypassing the ecstatic, she reveals a land and its species that are both threatened and provisional. Nevertheless, these poems rejoice in a quiet beauty that exceeds what is merely necessary for existence. As Gigot reminds us, ‘A fire breathes beneath the cold.’ ”
  flood patterns by jessica gigot cover image
  Painting by Kris Ekstrand Molesworth.

Jessica Gigot, Ph.D., M.F.A, is a poet, farmer, teacher and musician. Her small farm in Bow, WA – Harmony Fields – grows herbs, lamb and produce. She offers educational and art workshops through her Art in the Barn series, and has an academic background in horticulture and plant pathology. Jessica has lived in the Skagit Valley for over ten years and is deeply connected to the artistic and agricultural communities that coexist in the region. Her writing has been published in the Floating Bridge Press Review and Poetry Northwest.

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ISBN 978-1-936482-84-9

Copyright © 2015 by Jessica Gigot

5.5" x 8.5" paperback, 64 pages



Copyright ©2015 by Jessica Gigot




: a field of inquiry
: an area often including a nesting or denning
site and a variable foraging range that is occupied
by an animal or group of animals

When Grandmother visited
From her familiar cul-de-sac
She looked at me and said
“This is your territory.”

I place root remains and sheep hides
In piles of decay, a wild alchemy
Of epochs that transforms fodder
Into sweet silt under foot.

My work now is not just to love it
And all its verdant greening,
But to stay knee-deep in muck,
Always looking up.

Flood Patterns

Skagit Delta

Nobody wants to lose land.
God plays with the light until
The sky becomes empty and dark.
A storm trembles in the mountain
Echoing thunder.

This river can run high
As glaciers thread down to thick streams.
When the land was half-marsh, the fields
Knew only flood.

Our truths are ready to spill over the rim
Every time the river rises again.

Pretending To Be St. Francis

The sheep greet me at the fence
As I carry grain from the shed
To the wooden feeder.
I am groggy and waking up slowly.
I feel them sensing me out
Of their black dash eyes –
A bleat, and then a nudge
Behind my knee.
I strew barley and oats,
Jam the racks with hay squares.
They chomp and swallow
Many loud thankyous.
Sometimes I feel their gratitude
Sometimes I just see breath.

When Plants Talk

They are not whimpering, but bowing
To wind. Open stomata, silent voices
That chant in leaf rustle, roar in blossom
And stop you in your tracks.
Steadfast as balsam root
Under sage brush, pioneering
As blood root under shagbark hickory,
They take notice all the time, point directions
With each emerging petiole and leaflet.
It is the listening that is the hard part
And faith enough to heed.

Erna’s Notes on Gooseberry

Eat the berries fresh, but never store them.
Boil the roots and drink the infusion for
sore throat.

The plants and their uses are often forgotten
Except in her middens of notes.

When we forget to see their pink
Blossoms and red fruit, we forget
To see ourselves.

Her Quiet Bounty

Beside the warped pavement
Muddied in tire print mesh,
A blue heron arrows its beak
Into the algae and brown.

Tined snow lines break
From the feathered fog.
Underneath, white swans
Bathe in field sea reflections
Of distant peaks.

Bare canes rainbow over stillness
Awaiting the subtle pulse of blossom,
While chickweed swathes the
Broken mounds of tender loam.

Soon the lookers will come in droves
Seeking the valley’s berries and bulbs,
Making her blush summer praises.
But before these days begin to swell
While the quiet bounty lurks,
I am beholden to the depths
Of her winter.

Winter Squash

I roast acorn squash in the oven
For days. The steam comes up
Through the burners,
The flesh falls back in silence.
I’ve waited all winter for this fiery
February night. Despite your tender
Green back and steep gullies
You are magnificently dense.
A hidden boon from last fall
That is ready to give
And tastes like gold.


Hunting and Gathering

He is learning to fish
On the Samish, with the old timers
And the girl from the goat dairy.

He has not caught one yet,
But the hurt of wanting
Stays him on the bank
Until the last lure
Eddies or the
Pink sky folds into purple.

I am home, canning
Peaches and watching
That same horizon,
Now the color of
This fruit flesh.
A trade from
The farmer’s market
When no one sold out.

I’ll start dinner
When he comes back. Or
Maybe we will just
Go to the bar
For some red cabbage
And steak.

I can do the apples
Later, and maybe
Just freeze the sauce.

He returns. An empty bucket.
I set the tongs
On the cutting board,
Grab the keys
And go. For now,
While we still can afford it.