Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Three Poems: Kristin Berger


Her grip closes full round
the thin quill of bamboo
reaching to shoot apart
from the grove that clusters
along the riverbank – a trill of leaves
that will not shake free,
no matter how much she leans
her new, upright weight
against this green peer,
a wild wrestling
in the wet woods

like the fresh page found
exposed on the desk, she slashes
a black ballpoint mark
across the words' unfinished face

-- make poem, too, mama

she tosses and trains
the stalk to her will,
pricks open the batted sky
to a high blue,
a remnant of rain inking
the uncleaved space
in perfect arcs

young master, envious control.

* * * * *

Open Water
for Cindy

Your migratory route winds
like the loud brown crowd of geese
that settles on the black water
filling in with cattails, drowned root-balls,
wild rice, the ones always feeding
and never seeming to leave. Always
open water. The vein of Black River,
that life-line you trace, palm to steering wheel,
circling firetrails, sliding out,
turning back upon old, rutted tracks,
learning the script of a homing will,
of becoming your own wild white bird
that startles with its spearing neck
a quicksilver knot of minnows,
conspicuous in the shallows like a birch
de-leafed after that first hard autumn wind.
In the storm, you remain.
Tannin-stained. You revolve around pain
fingering the cold whorl, avoiding at first,
a habitual getting-to-know later – it stays
with you for as long as birds have wings,
which is to say, we recognize their coming
beyond the thick spruce and hidden grouse,
before their black bills part the morning fog,
when their pursuit of halo and snail
is a constant ache in your bones, playing you,
plucking tendons like lily cords,
a cello water-song.
Tar-necked and wise, they flock
to the center of the depths
where the current never slackens
under ice, the only swirling place
the dark notes know as home.

* * * * *


I am meant to live like a bird,
wings tucked into that sacred cleft
neatly next to beating breast,
a barbed cage containing this restlessness
for the last white grub
under the dank rock, the last meal
before joining the millions
in their quaking lullaby,
wings crooning noon and night,
leaving the holly, the currant,
the cones that clot boughs
packed with seeds like secrets,
as if these birds needed bribes,
a keep-here song,
were my kin,
as if these birds knew
to return to the ferns beneath my window,
that I waited, thumbing crackers
left in my dry pockets,
wings folded, gaining strength

~ Kristin Berger lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and writes poetry, essays, and fiction. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Journal, The Comstock Review, and others, and online at Thepedestalmagazine.com, Momwritersliterarymagazine.com, Hipmama.com, and hotmetalpress.com

"Stalk" previously appeared online last spring.

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