Geomorphology: A Lesson

by Deanna Baringer


Nina is seven, and knows a lot of things—but not this: the earth cannot be trusted. Tomorrow, she will know. Tonight, it’s raining, and the water seeps down between the rocks in new ways, evict-ing the soil, loosening the roots of the trees on the hill. She likes the way her house seems to sit on its lap, protected from the worst of storms. This is the landscape she studies through the window now, memorizing its contours, learning, always looking up. Tomorrow she’ll know so much more, but only for a moment: its scent, its taste, its unbearable weight.


Deanna Baringer is a writer and educator whose work has recently appeared in FEED, Santa Clara Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Lily Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Originally from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she now calls Pittsburgh, PA home. Find her on Twitter @vardonroad.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Geomorphology: A Lesson”?

There was a house perched up high on a steep hillside that I used to admire on my way to work. I liked to imagine what it would have been like to grow up there, to play in that yard, to have such a view. It looked like a dream. But then, one day, the house was gone, and parts of the highway were impassable, covered in dirt and rubble. I learned later that the residents were able to evacuate just before the face of the hillside collapsed. It was an unforgettable scene, and one that made me start to look at my surroundings with a bit of suspicion. I still think about that house all of the time, even though years have passed, and it was certainly hovering in my mind when I began to write this story.


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