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Kathleen Kirk

A Foreign Body

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A foreign body entered my eye:
it was Paul Celan, walking into the water.

He was lifted out
on the point
of a sterile myringotomy knife

and laid on a slide.
Under the microscope

he was discovered
to have had

no testicles


but they were there, subsumed,

eventually located
under the panther skin

that had weighed him down.

Virginia Woolf was there, too,

her rocks in her pockets.

Somewhere Outside Knoxville

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I don't ask anything to be more than itself,
not poem, not painting, not man nor child.
You're made that way, the Doobie Brothers
sing, and I believe in Major Love
tomahawked by Harpes as he snored
in his bed-tick, but I love the law.

Ten thousand crickets rubbed the Trace
clean of sorrow: Harpes with egos
bruised rose up with banjies, with peach
brandies and their brown and blonde
wives, dressed in calico
and leather, or in blue disguise,

hunted by redskin and white man alike
somewhere outside Knoxville, since
the body had floated in spite of stones—
Big Harpe finally felled by powder
from the feller's own horn, throat cut,
skull nailed to the crotch of a tree.

Housekeeping in Downs

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I used to dust the candelabra
of a house in Downs with chamois
as yellow and easy as butter, a phrase
applied to me once, as an actress
(not an agile goat). That's all
done now, and I don't lament

the losses, these strawberries minced
all summer in the mown grass.
August has a torque of its own,
roiling toward a storm. The gutters
revoke their duty, cracked & rusted,
paint fingernailed away

by murderous time. It's so Shakespearean,
summer in the Midwest. It's hard
to make a living in the arts
(or as a goat herd). I thought I could
write poems and play small parts
but these horns tip backwards.

League Bowling

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Weeping wears me out.
I can only do it for so long
before the body, racked up
like bowling pins,
descends from a dark recess
like pretty maids all in a row,
ready for the next shiny heavy smack
& necessary knocking down.
That's how it works.
I remember it all from childhood,
the Saturday night league, couples bowling,
us kids in the babysitting room
with toys, games, and crafts,
where a girl whose name & face I can't bear
to remember stapled her finger
to a paper plate.
That was never going to happen to me.

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