The Startle of Wings

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You are like a bird
flying around my house
and I’m glad to see you
because it’s spring
and it’s been so cold
and so very dark
but your flapping is distracting
and besides, they
say it’s a bad omen
to have a bird hovering
about where you sleep.
I should let you out,
but the windows are stuck shut
from the long winter.
I suppose I could just go open
the door, but that would be
too easy and imagine what
else I might let in.
I like to watch your outline
in the rafters, when you’re still—
the curve of your stomach
rising with your quick breath.
I don’t know if it’s really you
or just the idea of you
perched above me,
that keeps me awake.
Perhaps it’s that tap tap
tapping of your beak against the window
or how your flapping
seems so much louder because we’re inside.
No. I think it’s that I can’t shake
that feeling…that startle of your wings
when you first brushed
against my heart and I didn’t even know
that I was asleep.

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Sweet Stones

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Sweet Stones

(a walk at dusk in May to the cemetery and school on top of the hill)

What was once now
is now once was.

A fresh grave,

a muddy feather,

a child’s hand
of dandelions
forgotten on the lawn.

These are the sweet stones
my pockets ache to hold.

To hear their knocking
like teeth against my thigh.

To see this recent rustling of life,

to feel this fading breath,

to know this brilliant light.

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© Katrina Pierson, 2014

 

football

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I remember the ringing
in my ears
when they slammed
their flat chests
against me
and how I craved that
wild wind
in my bones.

It was fall in Minnesota
and I, the only girl on the field.

The goal post presided
over our games
like Prometheus,
our protector, arms pointed high
toward the pink heavens.

god of foresight
did he know that
one of us would die
before our fourteenth birthday?

Or that one would grow to be a lawyer
and another, a bigot?

Would he tell our parents
that the nights to come
were filled with fire?

I remember throwing myself
against them
how the taste of blood would rise
in my throat and mix with the musk
of their dad’s cologne
still heavy on their coat.

I didn’t know
what I was fighting for
under that big sky.

But I know now that it was worth it.

© Katrina Pierson, 2014

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Riversong

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You hang over me
with shoulders twisted
like an oak tree
kneeling on my shore.

I am fierce and moving
death like debris,
my lids are heavy with mud.
But still you stay.

Still, you drink me up.

The sky is naked
without a voice
there are no words to hear.

Just your leaves
on my surface
and the weight of your breath
in my song.

 

© Katrina Pierson, 2014 

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photo credit: Ricymar Photography (Thanks to all the fans!!!!) via photopin cc

Dirty (for my daughter)

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This is how you are 

You wear overalls
because dresses are too itchy
and you take the path through
the mud instead of around.

                              This is how you were born

With your black hair
and blood
spreading like sun rays
in the water
your eyes eager,
and your fists tight.

                               This is how we are

Twisted at the very root
we laugh here in the canopy
of the tree, for us,
it is most comfortable here.

                              This is what I wish for you

To always choose
the comfortable shoes
or to go with none at all.

And to feel the mud
between your toes
and know it’s okay
to be dirty sometimes.

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© Katrina Pierson, 2014 

 

aqua

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My boy was born with fins for hands
thin and papery chinese fans,
open like the light.

His eyes, dark soft stones
from the shore of a cold lake
picked up by an old woman,
thumbed gently under her breath,
and held against her chest.

His skin glows in the darkness
when he moves through the night-
with the bright white legs of a frog
and an eager neck.

A tiny creature who
lends the lake its beauty
and somehow seems
to hold it all in place.

Before his birth, he
swam circles near the shore
waiting to be lifted above the surface

until one day he was flung
like a bird out of the water
and into my arms.

© Katrina Pierson

This poem was written about my son Jack when he was only 3 weeks old. I was so amazed when he was finally in the world—he seemed more like a mythical creature than a human. I remember dreaming about him when I was pregnant and imagining what it must be like to swim in amniotic fluid. 

Sleepwalking

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Wild haired and six
he traverses
the steep stairs and hallways
of his dreams
to rest in the ocean
of my arms.

I tell him I’ll take him back to his room
and will be with him there.

So together we walk back
through the dark house (the only home he’s ever known)
and he stops along the way
to gaze at the wall
as if he’s looking out a window
at a bright cardinal
or a full moon
or a rabbit scurrying across the snow.
But it’s only a wall.

When we approach the stairs,
I inhale sharply at the thought of a misstep
So I lift him with my hips
and he falls into me
like an eagle falls into the wind,
limbs nearly scraping the floor,
as I conquer each clumsy step
and for a moment,
when we reach the top,
I feel ashamed
that I haven’t carried him
like that for so long.

I think about him as an old man
and wonder if his eyes will still
shine like bright coffee beans
or if time and all that reading
will fade them to yellow
like the pages of an old book.

I picture his face adorned with
wire-rimmed bifocals
framed in salt and pepper hair.
his big hands thumbing through
my first book of poems
and finding this one
and wondering why
it all had to pass
so quickly…

and wondering why
it is so hard
for us to
wake up.

© Katrina Pierson

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photo credit: Storm Crypt via photopin cc