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Kathleen Kirk

Study in Fog

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How I wish now for the ordinary life.
Thirty years here, I am frozen
to the bone, bent in two by the cold.

Was I mad? Or was it sane
to hold my heart away from the flame?
Now I would dream, leaning

my head against the hearth, deep
in thought. Now I would open
the door to the night, black as onyx.

Now I would open all the windows,
even if the fog came rolling in, white
as a marble hand…

The Age of Maturity

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We change in the period between idea
and execution. I wanted to polish
my Maturity with the bone of a lamb,

to soften the marble, to make it real!
But let us say I beseech him forever
in bronze, and it will be enough.

You can see the light glancing
off our flesh, our fingers almost
touch in metal as in stone,

and always there are three of us,
the triangle of love.

Unless I am alone, imploring.
Unless I am one abandoned

by a god.

The Devil's Basket

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I put all my eggs in the Devil's Basket,
growing up in the rugged land around
Villeneuve. (But, yes, I was born in Champagne!)
The devil was supposed to build a convent
there one night, but our screeching weathervane
scared him off, and he spilled his basket of rocks.
That's where I first saw figures rising
from the earth, and they didn't come from God. I dug
my arms into the red clay of Villeneuve
and shaped Antigone. And Oedipus.
Yes, I made a little David and Goliath,
but I wasn't fooled, not like my brother.
The Catholic. Though I love him. I still love him.

Broken Figure

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Destruction and creation come from the same
place, I think, but I no longer hope
to see again my home or those I loved.
I take my hammer and crush a figure—plaster
or dream, remembered or real. Equally dust.

There is pity in this. I can't stand
the screams of all these creatures anymore.
They break my heart. I am a woman crouching
in a corner. I am the torso of a woman crouching.

The Gossipers

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Oh, see the women lean in
tipping the bench of rumor
with the weight of their own
insecurities. I cannot help

but love their smooth shoulders.
Let them malign me! Still
I must give them lovely hips,
supple limbs. Oh, the turn

of that calf, that ankle!
Though I am nothing to them,
none of us rubbing elbows (—knocking knees!—),
I find them touching from a distance.


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It's old Helen again, caught in her dread
locks, hair like rags, the twisted fate
of men in search of gold or beauty, women
wanting love, stability, or child. We can't
get what we want. That's what destiny is:
The ribcage showing. The dried paps of age.
Kisses and digits and words we wasted, young.

Now, I'll tell you something. The reverse
is just as true. Nothing is wasted. All
is golden squander.

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