Katherine Gekker, four poems
Near Meander River, Near Miletus
A blue tiller’s curved prongs
rust toward red in some
field. One beetle crawls
along a scarred furrow, a doughboy
in a trench, no way to turn around,
no way to climb out,
the only way – forward
Each step limits the next
or expands it, temple
or field, fallen columns
and ruined gods –
these are and are not dialectics here
in Meander’s alluvium
Ruins surround us,
thin dogs prowl a barren
tourist stop, its
oranges, warm coke, no
For the first time in my life
I part my hair on the left,
stumble past myself,
unrecognizable, in mirrors. No one here
knows me, including me.
I need to lie in wait to see myself
One coriander- and cumin-stained
chickpea lies on the ancient
soil. If I were hungrier
I would pick it up
Now, Four Blizzards
The radio interrupts old songs, warns –
Severe winter storm!
Extremely hazardous conditions –
but you drive fast
into onslaughting snow.
Flakes like flashing stars
aim for my eyes,
divide at the windshield at the last moment.
The blizzard bends around us
like time through space
You drive at the speed of light
into dark, our convertible
hurtles away from the sun
in a blizzard of neutrinos.
When you turn on the headlamps,
light disappears into night.
We’re a star shimmering in the past,
listening to songs we cannot remember –
Except this: a blizzard disappeared
into the ocean, rimed the ship’s edges
white with ringing, stopped all thought
where metal ends.
The ship groaned, then dipped
so we saw only water,
a dark wall above us, dark
except for reflected white and red beams,
reflections of the ship’s running lights.
This light disappeared long ago.
Everything quickens around you –
surf rushes our feet.
Ice, sand, feldspar sting our skin.
Snow disappears in the ocean,
stirs sand with hoary frost
until waves melt the whiteness.
The blizzard salts your
shoulders, your eyelashes.
I can’t catch my breath.
A wild song vibrates through dunes,
disappears in hissing foam.
The world bends toward us,
the world bends away.
Inside a Coffee Shop
I see your face reflect away from
mine in the window. At last night’s
dinner, you never once
looked at me. Finished, you folded
your napkin exactly at its
creases, shrugged, said, “Well.”
My knee jiggles under the table.
I am almost as angry
as that man whose book I just read.
“Stairway to Heaven” repeats
a third time. How do we keep
arriving at this same place?
Outside, light shifts, blazes.
Seven steel stabiles rise, fall
yet remain on the same plane.
Infinite loops rotate. Shapes like
open palms say hello,
goodbye, sit down, be quiet.
Nature’s Cadenza – inspired by John Cage’s 4’33”
Eastern timber rattler’s percussive clicks
Bird’s song like a cell phone ring tone
like the sound of your cell phone
when I wasn’t the one calling
Don’t let your cageless ear
become your caged mind
: chlorophyll escapes,
turns poison ivy leaves crimson
: red-eyed green tree frogs dig deep
into pond-damp mud
: they won’t escape the silent cottonmouth’s
fanged white jaws
I am every subject but yours
: the owl’s wings beat a midnight ostinato
: the copperhead’s thick body flattens turf,
then grass blades spring up,
freed in its vibrato wind stream
: the mouse cringes, its fur quivers –
heart beat’s frantic tremolo
Feel sound waves lift my wild hair,
bypass my wild ears
the silence; the sound.
Katherine Gekker’s poems have appeared in Little Patuxent Review, Northern Virginia Review, and Little Lantern Press (November 2016).
Gekker’s poem, “…to Cast a Shadow Again,” was set to music by composer Eric Ewazen. Composer Carson Cooman set her poem, "Chasing Down the Moon," to music. Both are available on CD and iTunes. Gekker’s book of poems, In Search of Warm Breathing Things, will be published by Glass Lyre Press in 2019.