Aida Schneider © 2011 All Rights Reserved
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
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.
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
bringing low everything
no matter everyone
and our mistakes
which are brutish
which will linger ten thousand years
which may end us altogether
compared with this keyhole view
on what can only be God
it is so deep and unlit
Museum of Doubt
My love, allow yourself to stall, just a little,
then enter the collection
of black and white victims.
they await your reply.
Focus. Iím holding your hand.
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 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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