Kate Light

I cart a memory too fine
After Elinor Wylie

I cart a memory too fine
and deep; it catalogs and clings,
and will not just let go of things
that grow upon the very vine
where love was growing ripe and round.
Rich crops are worth the painful climb --
while other fruits may drop, with time,
to rot upon indifferent ground.

But make of finer fruit our wine
and drink the best of what we've had;
and know in time the spring will shine,
and let the turning year turn on --
No bitterness invade the glad,
or fear rewrite our lexicon....

The Idea Is the Fleeting Ghostly Fish

that's lit up in the world of fathoms-deep;
announcing its arrival with a swish
that makes the waters murmur in their sleep.
There always blooms that steady stream of snow
like plankton fallout in the sea of brain,
from which you snitch a thought not yes not no;
but Something from the world's incessant rain.
The ghostly fish that's lit up from within,
and bright enough to catch your eye that sweeps
the depths, or reaches, or the narrrow place;
its luminescence gets beneath your skin,
and cheers you when it finds your tearstained face.
And if you mimic it or rise to match its pace,
then you become the company it keeps.

Seeing You Begin to Consider Loving

Sometimes I feel less like a lover than a mother --
a mare watching the wobbling legs of a colt --
seeing you begin to consider loving another;
feeling those new joints quiver and unbolt.
Yes, we do this for our loves and friends,
don't we -- stand back and let them learn to walk,
make mistakes, over and over, then amends;
watch so-and-so and so-and-so stop speaking, then talk
it out. But oh in my heart to have put you first
so long ago, then to have had to wait
while you -- who asked for that -- went toward me, reversed,
withdrew, and now at last, reciprocate...
with what you once gave me already!
Will you fall again? Or are those legs more steady?

The Self-Taught Man

A man schooled to bits bears a son, and the son
says, No way will I walk where you've walked,
and be taught in the methods you've been taught.
I want to find out everything on my own!
You see the beauty of it: this son's untamed,
unbitten, unashamed; head-strong and heart-led,
people come to view him: the self-fed
man! He's in a niche that stays unnamed
because it's all his own. And you are drawn
to this one like a horse to water -- drink drink drink
beside the self-taught man; listen to him think
as only he can. After he is gone
from the spot you linger, licking your wounds and scars,
because the son listens only, only to the stars.


Kate Light's books of poetry are Gravity's Dream (2006 Donald Justice Award), Open Slowly (2003), and The Laws of Falling Bodies (1997 Nicholas Roerich Prize). Her poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, Hudson Review, Washington Post Book World, Feminist Studies, and the anthologies Good Poems for Hard Times (edited by Garrison Keillor), Western Wind, and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet. Also the author of two family concert pieces, Oceanophony (2003) and Einstein's Mozart: Two Geniuses (2006), she has taught at Hunter College, Cornell University, and the Musashino Art University in Tokyo, and is a professional violinist in New York City. Visit Kate Light's website.


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