reduced to quatrain
Again. Down at the water birds tread—
feet in mire, wings mucked. Once-fish
wash up and a few beaks pick at, twitch
inside them. The dead and half-dead
littering the shore are plastics. Am
I terrified that these immensities
of what I’ve done are licensed? Yes.
Rage erupts, and me—part-owner of a dam.
Oceans die and to do nothing I wade
into the dying—my body asking to offer
itself comfort: some lulling rhythmic turn
borrowed even longer ago from a wave.
there is no distance
if I poison
I am poisoner
doing not a thing am I not a thing
into the machine I
a wounding clock
a keep for
killing I watch I
watch and watching
am what I do not
stop nor seek to unwind
who might I
be I’ve caged
she thins dis-
her sorry so-the-fuck-what jailor
all mad here—it’s
mercury it’s petrol
bottled she bolts
her desire to fly
her best-worst attribute to the earth
waters were once
a kind of flight—if
I fly I’m a f-ing
what? while ink-dark milk plumes through
unslaking sobs of
we: babies, takers
I don’t know how one should make poems out of sorrow, complicity, and impotence. I only hope that making poems can be a first step toward action. While this is happening, I have been reading aloud Madeleine L’Engle’s book A Wrinkle in Time to my sons. In that book, three children travel light years from home to fight a dark cloud that they are told also shadows the earth. Such a shadow has leapt from metaphor into our water—the amniotic fluid of the planet. Art can feel small against this—and crucial.
Kirsten Kaschock’s first book of poetry, Unfathoms, is available from Slope Editions. a beautiful name for a girl is upcoming from Ahsahta Press. Kirsten is currently a Ph.D. fellow in dance at Temple University and resides in Manayunk, Pennsylvania, where she makes things.