Friday, July 22, 2011

Susurrations of the Heart

Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines

A careful ear can hear them in that darkness
that falls with sundown: hear those faintest murmurs
of leaves or breeze or owls' feathers stirring,
warm world of day now cooling into night.
These whispers hem the very edge of night,
their agitation growing in the darkness:
breathy voices clearing, sighing, stirring,
susurring, soughing, turning with their murmurs.
A careful ear won't listen to these murmurs,
will close itself to rustlings in the night—
shut out the nervous thrum of spirits stirring
and rising to their lives of thorny darkness—
will deafen to that darkness, with its murmur-
ations softly stirring in the night. . .


—Kathy Kieth

Rubber branches slither through sagging
scotch tape, snake along
faded pink walls; pretend-
plants tangle in chartreuse confusion.

Scotch tape snakes along
around the plain black-and-white clock;
plants tangle in chartreuse confusion
as their tape gives way and loses its hold.

Around the plain black-and-white clock,
a spiderweb has been begun, then abandoned
as the tape gives way and loses its hold,
impotent from waiting.

A spiderweb has been begun, then abandoned.
The magazines are two years old, badly torn.
Impotent from waiting,
an old man slumps in gray Naugahyde.

The magazines are two years old, badly torn.
Down the hall, the sound of approaching footfalls echoes;
an old man slumps in gray Naugahyde,
dozing in the murmurs of nurses.

Down the hall, the sound of approaching footfalls echoes
off faded pink walls which pretend
to doze in the murmurs of nurses.
Rubber branches slither through, sagging…


—Kathy Kieth

mewls and titters behind dirty
hands: mumbles under

mufflers: shadowy murmurs
back of the woodshed that ooze

over your skin just before
the disheveled cat

runs away… Canyons drop
behind darting, feral

eyes: sighs rustle like
the whisper of papery leaves

in gathering autumn. Secrets
mutter in cupboards: smirk

one last time: then skitter
off and away, lodge them-

selves in the dusty
armoire of the heart…



of the Nash: head on Mother’s
lap: clack of wipers on a rainy

road: murmurs mingling with
thrumming motor sounds: father-

mother murmurs: night folding
around wet windows: night-rain

closing its dark curtain around
the grey hunch of a Nash: whispers

of rain and water-flash of passing
cars: sibilant sighs carrying

the ess in cancer: essy hush
of it: night-sounds of slick tires

and road-rumbles: hum of
grown-up voices folding around

her dozing head: all those esses
sliding along in their dark

murmurs: rainy susurrations over
the grumble of an old motor: smell

of those seatcovers: sibilant sound
of this new word, cancer. . .

—Kathy Kieth


                        for Frannie-Alice
—Kathy Kieth

Yellowing windowshades muzzle
a hot summer day: muffle
brassy July sun that slants against
peeling linoleum. Two grey heads

bend over knife nicks in a wooden
table: murmur the worn-out secrets
of old women as stiff fingers curve
around chipped cups: grasp at

the soft flesh of each other's words:
embrace the slim gossip of this
gathering twilight. . . Yellowing
shades fold the room in liquid

amber: wash faded tile bronze, as
the murmurs scatter across crowded
drainboards: bounce with a ping off
the cooling stove: roll along base-

boards and under dented pans: finally
come to rest: curl up in the china
cabinet alongside those few choice
pieces left behind by somebody's

grandmother, somebody's mother,
somebody's aunt. . .

(first published in Nanny Fanny)


Today's LittleNip: 

Vanity: What you feed first.

—Stephen Dobyns



Bill Gainer has a new book coming out August 1; see the Medusa's Kitchen Facebook page for more info and to order it from Amazon.

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis