Recipient of the San Miguel de Allende Writers’ Conference Prize for Poetry and a winner of the Sidney Lanier Poetry Award, Kathryn’s poems appear in The Sun, Chautauquah, Comstock Review, New Ohio Review, Atlanta Review, and Oberon, among others. Her book is Riding Waves (Finishing Line Press). She's a Best of the Net nominee and finalist for the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Prize, NORward Prize for Poetry and Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Contest. Kathryn loves to hike the trails, listening for birdsong to translate to poems.
Keeping My Lamp Trimmed
I’ll be calling my friend soon, to unravel and reweave
our strands — as we have for years. She’ll want to hear
about my son’s decision not to see me for awhile.
I’ll tell how the storm broke over his umbrella,
me on the porch, him under the sky in a downpour,
how he almost laughed, before his lip trembled.
She’ll interrupt, “At least you’re on the same continent,”
thinking of her husband and daughter in Singapore.
Then she’ll tell of her preemie grand baby,
tiny fingers, tiny nails like seedling pearls, wrapped
round his daddy’s finger, how the little family got out
of the hospital just in time. “Another life to worry about!”
But I won’t be pulled in. I’m keeping my lamp trimmed.
It’s a planetary death moment, earth calling us
to her breast and we’ll rest under green oak hills,
orange fields of poppies, vast prairies.
My daughter has no one to hug but a tree, I say.
It’s enough, says my friend.
His Pal, Honey
“It’s not that bad,” you said that day, throwing sticks
for Trucker, your dog. All the seasons of change, checking
out each homeless guy, afraid and hoping it was you.
Today, from the driver’s seat, I see a guy walking fast
between cars, his sign—Will Work For Food. Brown hair,
sun-frizzed, bony bare shoulders, just like yours. I park,
run with binoculars, ducking into a doorway. You’re hefting
a plastic bag with one hand, gripping a dog leash in the other.
You’re leaving and I may not get the chance again. I follow
you to the rubbish jungle at the overpass and call out, “Hey!”
The pit bull turns, plants her feet, stares a threat.
But it’s not you. It’s Eddie and his pal, Honey. We stand
in the street chatting about his pup with the freckled nose,
as if we’d met in line at a show. I tell him how I put Bullfrog
on my own dog’s nose. Then I blurt, “My brother is homeless.”
“Aw, I’m sorry,” he says, and though I don’t know him, or his
beautiful bruised shoulders, the lilt in his voice and his desire
to console become if only his sister and what if my brother.
Mictecacihuatl, Lady of the Dead,
inspired Posada’s first Catrina etching
I put on my mother’s black Spanish lace,
fit her figure to my bones, place
her feathered bonnet on my skull.
I’m lucky, my life hasn’t changed too much.
I’ve had my day in the sun.
The rub is all of you: I’m hurting for you.
I’m the Bride of Death and you might all die at once.
Which might even save the elephants.
You can’t live forever and wouldn’t want to.
But when your moment comes, I won’t be watching,
no matter how I’ve loved you. I’ll let you go.
It won’t be easy. But this dress is my armor
and, if I may say so, it is gorgeous.
At eight, I read a book about a boy my age,
shipwrecked on an island in the Azores,
where he found a herd of Spanish horses,
lost four hundred years before. The boy tamed
a stallion, named it Flame. The Island Stallion
under my arm, I walked between chain link
fences to the orange clay pits, mile-wide gashes
in the earth, out of reach of calls for dinner,
out of reach of Get My Belt tongue lashings,
out of sight of young pilots and their bright red
sports cars, paying calls on my lonely mother.
Between two pits, a quiet wood, a hidden glen
where I read, conjuring azure skies, riding Flame.
This was not the trope of girls and horses but
the mucking out of those vacant stalls in the
house where we lived that year. When the boy
was rescued, he took Flame from the island.
I hardly need say the stallion was broken,
metal bit shoved between his teeth, made to run.