Kelly Cherry has published nineteen books—most recently, The Retreats of Thought: Poems (LSU, 2009)and Girl in a Library: On Women Writers & the Writing Life (BkMk, 2009)— eight chapbooks, and translations of two classical plays. She was the first recipient of the Hanes Poetry Prize,
given in recognition of a body of work, and recently received a Rockefeller Foundation grant to work on a book-length poem that she expects to be in progress for some time. “A Lyric Cycle,” from her first book of poems, appears in the original and in a new Latvian translation on the 2009 studio recording of Imants Kalnins’ Fourth Symphony (released by Upe tuviem un tāliem) for which it serves as the text of the last movement.
On the couch—
baby mice stillborn,
clutching each other
as if either
could save his brother.
The size of thumbs,
tails still curled.
Spelling it twice.
Adverb. With which Virginia Woolf describes
the flight-fatigued birds, how they “came descending,
delicately declining, dropped down and
sat silent on the tree”—an elm grown tall—
and on a wall. . . .Or is the word a typo?
But never mind, for does it not call forth
whole acres of lovely lilies in bloom, a kind
we’ll call love lilies, stems and petals swayed
by breezes, like a woman’s blowing skirt
or like her hair when, after love, she rises
from the bed and glances in the mirror
to see what changes have been worked on her,
and isn’t she changed, become somebody else,
more knowing, more aware of who she is?