Aida Schneider   © 2011 All Rights Reserved

Coyote
            Pronunciation: \ kī-ō′-tē, chiefly Western kī′-ōt \


After years away,
I met you again on the tongue
of an old friend from home. Kī′-ōt.

Trotting through sagebrush. Wild
by any name. Iíd moved to a green isle city
that pronounced you kī-ō′-tē

and abandoned you by the side of the road.
Iíd forgotten your silver, slope-shouldered form
and gaze.

Youíre not a citizen of language or memory,
but I am. Changing your name
was a betrayal of home

born of living among outsiders,
born of looking back through outsidersí eyes
at interchangeable houses landscaped

with wishing wells and pansies.
I could never love the brown hills around us.
Now, in the city, who can love the desert in me?

Kī′-ōt. Kī-ō′-tē. You live outside pronunciation.
Iím become like you
and canít say your name either way.

***

Reading Wells


between releasing a pebble to a deep well

and the distant plash rising up
to your ear

you accept all the mysteries
of water and geologic time

the inexorable
wearing down
bringing low everything
no matter everyone

and our mistakes

which are brutish
which will linger ten thousand years
which may end us altogether

one-thousand one
one-thousand two

are unforgiven
and unbounded

but pebble-sized
compared with this keyhole view

on what can only be God
it is so deep and unlit

***

Museum of Doubt
            Nagasaki photos


My love, allow yourself to stall, just a little,
            then enter the collection

                        of black and white victims.
                                    Like inkblots
                                    they await your reply.

            Focus. Iím holding your hand.
                                                Their shadows

                                                on bridges and walls
                                    stop at 11:02

                        like interrupted sundials.
                                                That, at least, you can respond to.

            Youíll never make sense of rubble.
                                    The raw body proves difficult Braille.
                        Illness you can fathom,
                        with its slippers scuffing along a glassy hall.
                                                But can you feel it?

A kimono pattern imparted to the wearerís skin.

Beloved, youíve been carefully trained
                        (do you sense your resistance?).

                                            Meaning is lost
            between the vulnerable eye
                                                and well-defended mind.

Whoís on your side (you keep asking)?
                                            Not righteousness, not at this late hour?

            Look at you, unsure,
                              but sure underneath.

Kathleen Flenniken
Copyright © 2011

 

Kathleen Flennikenís second poetry collection, Plume, is a personal examination of the Hanford Nuclear Site and is forthcoming from University of Washington Press. Her first book is Famous (University of Nebraska Press, 2006).


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