Ode to the Back Yard  
    Katherine Kellogg Towler


The suggestion of your clothes that day: how jacket and vest
could name territory where we would not stray. Alaska,
Siberia, I have no interest in distant places. The lettuce patch
behind the house is far as I intend to go.

Now you fan the cards, a quick magician, and tell me
to pick just one Ė temptation is the hourís god.
Head to the ground, I circle the path
with the mourning doves. Their map, like mine, is made

of broken stone. See? Flight is smaller
than what we want. To step through that window
is easy as slipping out of pants and shoes. Any fool
can unbutton a shirt. The true life is here: a square of earth

where we train our sight to follow the spiderís journey
into grass. The prayer he threads is our love
tethered to fern, to air. Discovery of flight?
No, words floating off the page, messengers of earth.


The Kitchen Door  

    Katherine Kellogg Towler


You carry faces, torches to light the way.
One is an actor on a stage, another a deafmute.
One was born without a hand.
Graveyard of love, who can trespass here?
In the morning blood on the sheets
tells where you have been.

The line drawn through your body
marks this world from that.
Here, soaking the sheets in a basin
as finches dart to the feeder, thought is banished.
You roll your life out like bread dough
day after day. But what of these others
crowding round, a band of circus performers?

A freakish past parades in the night,
host of mistakes who throng the streets
and lift the bottles high. You would follow,
you would lick the ends of cigarettes
stubbed out years ago. You would cast
your clothes in the pile and peel down to skin,
bare your breasts to anyone who asks.
If only there was some way
to break the lock on the kitchen door.



Katheine Kellogg Towler is a fiction writer and poet from Portsmouth, NH. She has received fellowships to Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and has published her work in Ms., The Mars Hill Review, Garden Lane, and other publications. She is currently submitting a first novel for publication.


 
 
 
 

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