Patricia Kirkpatrick: Three Poems
Pine Siskins | Turkey Vultures | Spring Dream at Forty-Nine
Pine siskins and goldfinches persist
at the feeder.
A loon unravels a tremulous call.
Boys who yesterday bagged groceries
in small towns
have been out in their boats since four,
their lines hung down in broody swatches
of brown and green water.
The last of the nightís rain drips
from branches and fog
casts further and further from shore.
The hills have no opinion.
The dock, planked and grey as newspaper,
enters the lake without intention.
Wind ripples the water like erasures.
I see you at the side of the road,
black and upright as jars,
the hunch of your shoulders
in the top of a cottonwood,
your red heads
shrunken and featherless.
Stark as lightbulbs,
I know you must be addressed
as well as the grey garden vireos
I love for their various songs.
Letís say you are simply drying your wings
as my Audubon tells me you do
in a few trance-like minutes of sun,
not sighting death
Still when I drive here,
gauging the spring mess of the flood plain,
to follow the river home,
I hate how you show up, blunt
as a hearse parked outside the school yard.
Spring Dream at Forty-Nine
"The usual view of life is firmly rooted in the idea of existence."
Little by little I remember the vision
of the grass hill and plank wood,
the clustered flowers, tickseed and linum,
a few fervent mourners circled to
read from a rustling paper
and what they might say of me:
she was crazy about small things!
A horse in the field bends a curved neck to the earth.
A tanager sings.
Red tips of maple buds fall
in the night. "Nothing special," the Zen master
says of his practice. If I put words on paper,
what more can be said?
Below the Ford bridge when I drive the car pool
shattered arguments of winter
run again as water. A river.
Soon the spring green will bead the branches
with a paleness the color of Japanese mustard,
that burning and burning.
Patricia Kirkpatrick's poetry has been published in The Threepenny Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Minnesota Poetry Calendar, The Antioch Review, Ironwood, Hungry Mind Review, Poetry Kanto, and the anthologies What Have You Lost? (Simon and Schuster), The Writing Path (University of Iowa Press), Looking for Home (Milkweed Press), and Minnesota Writes: Poetry (Milkweed Press). Her books include Plowie: A Story from the Prairie (Harcourt Brace) and Learning to Read, a letter press chapbook of poems (Meadow Press). Her awards include Montalvo Poetry Award, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, and a Loft-McKnight Award in Poetry. She has published interviews with such notable poets as Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, Rita Dove, Sharon Olds, W. S. Merwin, Eavan Boland, and Li-Young Lee. She teaches at Hamline University.