Three Poems ~ Katharine Coles



Back when I wondered what
I had to do to make it, I knew
I would know it when I saw it,
The way I would know a lion

Flicking her tail in the grass had
Fixed her desire on me.  Back then
Each day opened itself, brilliant
And blank as empty glass.  This

I knew of beauty: its hunger,
Its delicate provocations.  And yes,
I believed the day waited to be filled,
And me to fill it.  Only how

Would I ever open myself so far,
How could I pour without spilling?




First, squirrels, calling
Annoyance at my progress
To fetch the paper, my news
All their concern, none of it.

Then, the hummingbirds
Rocketing straight up
And topping the trees,
Scouting for feeders I am late

Hanging on the balcony,
Buzzing my ears.  Where
Have I been, the orioles
Also insist, or rather

Where is their grape jelly
And could I go away now?
Every day passes through
Demand and response, raccoon

Growling over the bins, food
Herself for the rarely spotted
Bobcat easing his shy
Body up the walk, curving

Himself to see me.  Even
After dark I hear the eerie Who
Are you, wings with and without
Feathers filling the air

With audible silence.  Some
Questions have no answers
I can give.  Others
None I will take.




Because they live in the dark
Mostly they live in

Their ears, listening, singing
Back. We drop microphones

And eavesdrop below
The surface, letting them make us

Fishers of sound.  They surface
When they want and bob

Pointing their eyes at us in our
Strange vessels and bright

Flotation vests.  Why don’t we
Come on in?  They flip and dive

And return, those great
Temptresses, and wink, and finally

When they’ve exhausted
Our capacity to amuse them

Roll their vastness into
Greater vastness.   Because

They sometimes throw
Themselves onto our shores,

Enormous, evacuated,  where
They never meant to be, and like

Any body start to stink, we think
We know their fates.  But when

They come to their ends in deep
Waters, like us, alone, they sink

Back to where they came from
Out of sight and deep, where

We all came from, whether
Or not we end there.