Katherine Gekker, four poems

September 1, 2017

 

Near Meander River, Near Miletus

 

A blue tiller’s curved prongs

             rust toward red in some

                        farmer’s abandoned

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

            step’s choice

                           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

            temptation

 

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

 

I.

 

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

 

II.

 

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 –

 

III.

 

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.

 

IV.

 

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”

 

               1st movement

 

Eastern timber rattler’s percussive clicks

           crescendo    decrescendo

 

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

 

              2nd movement

 

Listen:

 

: 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

 

             3rd movement

 

Nature’s cadenza:

 

: 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.

 

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