Tuesday Apr 23

Kirkpatrick Kathryn Kirkpatrick holds a dual appointment at Appalachian State University as a Professor in the English Department and the Sustainable Development Program. Her poetry collections include The Body’s Horizon (1996), which was selected by Alicia Ostriker for the Brockman-Campbell award; Beyond Reason(2004), which was awarded the Roanoke-Chowan Poetry Prize by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association; Out of the Garden (2007), which was a finalist for the Southern Independent Booksellers Association poetry award; Unaccountable Weather (Press53, 2011); Our Held Animal Breath (WordTechEditions, 2012), selected by Chard DeNoird for the 2013 Brockman Campbell award; and Her Small Hands Were Not Beautiful, forthcoming from Clemson University Press in 2014. Her long poem about Maud Gonne in six voices will be performed this summer as part of the Yeats Summer School festivities in Sligo, Ireland. As a literary scholar in Irish studies and the environmental humanities, she has published essays on class trauma, eco-feminist poetics, and animal studies.


Snake(s) on our Bridge

And in the rut the many cars have made,
a tangle in the dusty afternoon ~
a wounded snake? Stillish, loosely knotted,
mottled mystery in the indentation
of car trips home and back, delivery trucks,
the traffic of each living day and night.
Or wait.
             The snake is not harmed yet.
And when I crouch to see it clearly, I
find at first its tail grasped in its teeth,
mandala in the making, self-consuming
alchemy above our small bridged stream.
But wait again.
                         Outside my human myth,
this snake swallows another, smaller snake,
head first, only a black tail writhing. I
see now, or think I see ~ aftermath,
a meal, a long digestion. And can I
tease the needless from the needful death?
The half-gorged snake slides past my disgorged dream.

Mary’s Sonnet

Dying, she asks if there’s a map for where
she’s going. That’s a good question for such
a moment. Heaven knows, the guides are few
enough, the focus precisely on where
(and not on how),
                           as if such a vast, such
an imponderable passage with few
signposts might be immaterial, the getting
there a getting on with it, our secular
selves at a loss. Bordo. Lethe. Last Rites.
Who shall we ask for the way?
                                                  Here’s Mary,
propped up in the sun room, surely dreaming
raspberry canes and grapevines shorn for winter.
She is falling leaves. She is ebbed autumn light.
Who shall we ask for the way? Here’s Mary.