Thursday, April 26, 2007

I held my breath as it went out of the mailbox

Dear Editors,

During the day, I am a high school English teacher, but in the quiet moments in between, I write poetry--in the creases of my hands, in the margins of my students' papers, in a notebook kept surreptitiously tucked under my arm. I hope to one day revive and live out the dream of attending an MFA program, though for now, I will keep that mortgage afloat.

Things that have been haunting me in recent poetry: my grandfather's battle with Alzheimer's, honeybees, and the geography of overcoming. I am getting married in the summer, so for now the "K" is part of my pen name, though I plan to make it permanent come August.

Enclosed you will find several poems for your consideration, including a ghazal to appease your hungry need for this unique form and two run of the mill free verse poems.

Thank you,

Paper & Fire: A Ghazal

My grandparents’ house at the edge of a lake
glimmers at night, fireflies caught in memory.

Inside, a warm glow like a lantern shop,
Grandfather once able to recite poetry by memory.

Shaking in the kitchen, fire nearly out,
papery hands stirring flecked tea as rough as emery.

He wore a blue suit to his driver’s test, caught in flight,
touching coat pocket, wishing for working memory.

Now, forgetting name of granddaughter, of the word
for keys, of the way out, fraught in sinking memory.


The day they found the lump, I bought a cake,
maraschino cherry tucked in white froth
at the center of thawing black frosting.

I could feel it, a small burning stone
measured six inches above, lilting right of the axis.

I count this day footsteps--from bakery to car,
beneath round hanging flower baskets,
the shadowy bluffs in the distance.

Everything's shape is muted in the wind.

A blizzard propelled through the weekend, the forgotten cake
cooling in the refrigerator, brave knife ready to pull
layers out for stranded lovers.

What She Brings from the Market in Moldova

There were no crated chickens today,
no terrible noise. The men were leering, rough.

I bought fish with silver scales. For this,
the bread line was abandoned. You wanted me

to forget the thin skin of winter;
melting on dull linoleum. We felt momentarily safe

by the fire's smoke. You led me
to the window; you rubbed a heart-shaped hole

in the fog, to show me the lamp posts
like winking stars, telling me to forget the way our lives

are not our own. Reaching over, you wipe at
deep midnight in the corners of my eyes.

We linger, leaning against one another, your fingers
slender and shaking. These are no longer our memories

of youth. We are watching our country
break away from us like sloughing layers of skin.

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