March 6, 2015

Remembering How to Write a Poem.



It starts when you find the flesh of your heart
as the bark on an evergreen tree,
and you let the needles cleanse you better than a bubble bath.

You start with your hometown bedroom:
no overhead lights, just lamps,
a soy, pine-scented candle,
and always a bottle of Jack London’s cabernet.

You start with the congregation who drank communion
but did not mouth a single hymn.

You start with the camel-colored cornfield town:
Illinois suburb with Wal-Mart parking lots
full of suburbans.

You start with the phone call
that ended mid-sentence in Paducah, Kentucky,
where all bad things happen,
(like the ice sheet that came off a semi and broke your windshield)
during your six-hour drive home.

You start with the birdcage
he locked you in
and kept the key for
while ruffling your feathers
so no one heard your morning song.

You start with the one
who breathes
into your ears
causing branches to grow from your fingertips,
and you write.

You start with the one
who looks
through your November sycamore tree
and finds the sky through the branches.

You start with the one
who leaves everyone like a shell––
indented from the expression of his tides.

You start with the grandfather who has leukemia
but believes he won’t die––
and his grandchildren
who fake their love
with handmade gifts
they were forced to make––
the money he gave to the drugs
and jail bails
instead of their college tuition.

You start with the coffee, macchiato, espresso, caffeine, cabernet, merlot, zinfandel, and wine, running through your veins––
the pulse.

You start with the muddy manmade shallow lake water, the ashes, the cigarette smoke, the fog and the swamp dew clogging your pores, under your fingernails, and the layer under your eyelids.

Look out the window, what do you see?

You see the weightless
snowflakes falling
and becoming, somehow, piles of heavy snow
covering the mountains in Frisco.

You see dead trees in December
under the one single cloud that blankets the sky
and inks the branches with burgundy.

You see how the rain weeps on the pavement
at the love of the sun
kissing the earth
every morning.

You see people–
Alone, but smothered in thinking,
Clasped with another,
Carrying small purses and holding big books,
Carrying big bags on their back with free hands,
And people standing still caught in conversation––
regretful or grateful for their serendipity.

I see you,
every time I write.
You’re the ink in my pen,
and you’re born on the pages
of my leather journals
that fill quicker than I can afford,
and I am trying to write about something else.


Author: Kate Wilke

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Photo: Flickr

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Kate Wilke