Issue 3:2 | Poetry | Katherine Soniat
Five Poems by Katherine Soniat
rose in its banks, and beside it my cousin's house sat in the rain.
Her hounds whined. A snake mounted the porch steps in its slow
All these, predictions of the Wolf's overflowing
while we drove off in the pick-up to get whiskey for her party.
She jerked from first to third, dabbing sweat from her neck
with paper towels, dogs scuffling in the back.
rolled by, the in-and-out sun steaming every bug that shrilled
for the bigger rains to come. Saw palmettos scraped our fender
on the back road.
Showers loomed, rainbowed, then reappeared,
and a train whistled by when we stopped, as directed, at the second
hubcap-fence past the tracks.
She nudged me to go fetch booze
for the dance the insects knew would never happen. Jumping the ditch,
I traded my wad of wet money for bottles shoved through the screen
Then we drove back to the rising river, dogs clattering about
in the truck-bed, their feet tap-dance-nervous across the potholes
of each named and isolated county.
I section off the canvas to paint the big Amish tomato
beside the split watermelon—
juicy pink with seeds like flies on the fresh loaf of bread
cooling in my window.
Headlights roam the fields, hay-mowing under the full moon.
Drums pound by the second by the barn, the Chilean worker's
palms a thumping blur.
His buddy plays the panpipes, notes of home in a mountain valley.
Seven slim cylinders of breath and the clippity-clap smack of hands
older than any constellation of tractors.
A freighter sits for days on the ocean, filled with gravity and
cargo afloat. I eat toast under a thatched roof on the beach and
watch last night's rum wobble a fisherman.
Another hour of my sitting is noted by the waiter with a slosh
of Pine Oil aimed at flies on an empty table.
It's strangely quiet when you don't understand a word that's spoken.
Gulls on the sandbar are more exact than any phrase for “low tide.”
Couples kiss, and last night's dream becomes contiguous: a cave echoes
over and over, robert graves. It breathes this in my face each time we almost
touch—your name, then the ground they opened to lay you to rest.
This National Forest was not made for someone
to take up residence. It just cannot be tolerated.
Past neon signs, horns, and the hustled sleep,
the sidewalk-lost head off to breathe in the pines
for a while. For a season, they fall into step
As through an old party-line, news of these outsiders
travels. Neighbors pick it up from each other, from the
Overheard, spotted, they keep to the back roads, and voices bark:
zip 'em up in tents behind some barbed wire. It's a goddamn
brand new dustbowl, these freeloaders thinking it's their freeride.
A man sleep-talks in the rain, whispers, slam the door,
a wish-list of thresholds. His child pokes fingers
into her watered forest home; she tastes mud and
wears it, no guilt to track in to the other side of the trees.
Some nights they rest by streams few could have imagined—
pine needles, a rusty bed of moonlight. Summer's the part
to remember, not long before snow blows in over West Ridge.
A basketball’s dirt-court rhythm thumps in the distance
while my son takes care of his own first home.
He’s hammering, planting, watering. Like some sort of father,
I think, looking out the window at the gulf.
These sounds of domesticity recall my husband
putting in tulip bulbs beneath our bedroom window
the fall we were married.
The word father shifts lazily around in my head,
but the one who arrives in dream is mine: he leans,
a face so close, his smile and eyes whimsical,
as if we’d shared the same secret for decades.
Something almost laughable holds us
a kiss-length apart,
this, the same man who stumbled feet-first out of war,
then surrounded himself with water.