Kathleen Kirk


Tim Maguire, Untitled 2007

Blind Gentian

I was ready to open: dew hung from my leaves.
I was like all the others
in a wet thicket beside the tall trees.
A boy asked me why I didn’t kiss him—
so I did, his lips soft as petals, closed.

I waited.

You are waiting now for what will happen
next. I cannot tell you. I wait, still.
I have spread into the damp meadow now,
toward the ragged creek. The meek, the meek,
I pray daily, bare toes digging in.



Asters

The ones in my own garden
are tiny and white,
creating a firmament in the shade
of early afternoon.

The ones on the trail
have gone purple. Surely it’s something
in the soil, probably iron. There’s a factual basis
for everything, like the blue
hydrangea from the rusty nail.

But I listen to the crickets, too,
what they tell me about the invisible stars.



Red Nasturtium

Why should suffering suffuse us with shame?
Ecstasy if seen as the red
nasturtium hidden deep under round leaves.
Blush turned outward, we could also unfold.



The End of the Garden

You must forgive me
for loving the tumbled garden, the end
of the zinnias, bent or leaning,
curved like the new covenant,
each new green stem sprung from the main brown stem
standing up straight toward the sun,
each tight new bud holding its secret
pink or orange against the blue-gray sky.

No one wants to discuss death
but now the four-o’clocks open before dawn.
Moonflowers swallow the darkened day.
We don’t have to sneak out at night to see them!

Everything is sweet.
The air is sweet.

Yes, the flowers bow down to the earth.
When they nod their heads
they are seeding the spring with wild calendula,
forget-me-not, yellow cosmos, blue cornflower.
When they shake their heads, it is the same.




Kathleen Kirk is the author of three poetry chapbooks, Selected Roles (Moon Journal Press, 2006), Broken Sonnets (Finishing Line Press, 2009), and Living on the Earth (forthcoming in 2010 from Finishing Line, as No. 74 in their New Women’s Voices series). Her work appears frequently in print and online journals, including After Hours, Oklahoma Review, Poems & Plays, Poetry East, and Spoon River Poetry Review. She works at Babbitt’s Books in Normal, Illinois, and teaches a poetry workshop in the rare book room.

These poems, first published in Apparatus, Blood Lotus, 350 Poems, and Albatross, all come from Living on the Earth, Kathleen Kirk’s forthcoming poetry chapbook, which is available for pre-order at this site.




  • bobyoung

    I will introduce this work to the Friends of Theodore Roethke. Her touch is much like his, inspired by him, perhaps, but less dark.

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  • Gretta Barclay

    Lovely poems, Kathleen. I especially like “The End of the Garden.” Gretta Barclay