Down by the river all
things are golden: the sun
in the southwest glances
off the tumbling river
and illuminates my son’s hair.

Rain never comes
in October, except pouring
piles of yellow leaves. The dryness
comes. The darkness
comes. We turn back

the hour.

*

The cottonwood extends
a hand blessing the river. The lower
trunk is the wrist fastened to the ground;
the main trunk profiles aligned fingers;
an artery forms the thumb. This hand holds
no human life.

The female downy woodpecker
takes flight. Her underwings fan out
like a bloody sunset.

*

I have left the door open
again and let out the kitten
who gets lost coming
home from the neighbor’s backyard.

*

The colors absorb my eyes:
Royal blue and gold,
then grey, grey, grey.

*

I am waving.

*

When he comes, he leaves
the smell of coffee
and goes.

*

No one says,
“She’s gaining weight. She must’ve lost
her poetry, again.” But they do
assume he’s walked out. Or she has no self-control. Or
she cannot manage her will. Or she must have made him leave. Or.

I do it, too.

*

When winter comes,
she bathes in the leaves
that pile against
the fence.

The boy cuts his tree, scissoring carefully
around the lines. It blazes red. The window frames
his effort.

*

These nights in my dreams
I walk and walk across
pavement, over exit ramps,
under viaducts-carrying
my sleep, gathering myself
around a spindle. I tuck in where
my esophagus meets my stomach just
beneath my breasts. I bundle
magic. I walk
and walk across miles of sage
and sand to where the concrete
wears the ocean and wait.

 


ABOUT AN ESSAY ON REFRACTION

I wrote the majority of this poem on the edge of the San Juan River in a park my son calls “The Blue Park.”  Neither of us can remember its real name, but it’s in Farmington, NM.  So the river and my son inspired this poem.  I wrote it in pieces and fragments, and when I put it together, I realized it was more than its parts and a lot about light. And I was playing with the idea of genres as being expandable ideas, and I came up with the title.  So all of that, and cottonwood trees, which fill the Blue Park.  You can never underestimate the quiet power of the cottonwood tree.

 


 

Kimberly Mathes is the 2012 Bright Harvest Prize Winner for poetry selected by Aquarius Press. She has two poems in the 200 New Mexico Poems Project with the printed version of the anthology forthcoming from University of New Mexico Press. After living for over a decade in the Four Corners area of New Mexico, Kimberly now resides in Phoenix. She is Residential Faculty in Composition and Creative Writing at Glendale Community College and spends time chasing poems and Arizona sunsets on her Harley.

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