Kathleen Brewin Lewis
I'm a Georgia writer who focuses on the natural and the lyrical. I love to hike along the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, the beach at Tybee Island, and the mountains of western North Carolina. My daughter has recently moved to Boulder, Colorado, and I'm looking forward to learning the trails there. My chapbook, Fluent in Rivers, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2014; I have a new chapbook forthcoming in 2016. Recent publication credits include Southern Humanities Review, The Tishman Review, Cider Press Review, and Menacing Hedge.
Rite of Passage on Red Top Mountain
Somewhere along the trail my son has passed me and now I follow him. His muscling calves disappear around a bend. A few minutes later he calls to me—Mama? Coming, I say. He waits until I’m in sight to turn back to the path. Half a mile more, all birdsong ceases. There’s a man just inside the woods, a sullen stag dressed in a sleeveless T-shirt and dirty jeans, arms covered in crude tattoos. He stares at me, but does not speak. Heart races; legs will not. I see my son, standing a few yards up the path. Come on, Mom, he says in a doughty voice. When I catch up to him, he puts one arm around my waist, shows me the pocket knife in his other hand. We don’t look back.
My mother used to walk as if to music, as if she knew someone were watching. They always were. Tonight she cannot sleep. She goes into her study, shuffles through papers, pens her signature. In the morning, she will show me she has put her life in my hands. She will give me the key to the safe deposit box, tell me she hides her finest jewelry in a quilted pink case under the sofa, hand me a list of her favorite hymns. And I will touch her face, which is still beautiful.
The crook of your arm
is warm and surely you are
thick bread, sweet butter
the sun at noon
brown hawk in the sky
the Cliffs of Dover
oak logs, split and stacked
oversized sweater with
leather elbow patches
scent of copper
cairn marking the trail
rain in the night.
Your first knowledge, the nooks and crannies
of your parents’ bodies: crooks of their arms,
scent of their necks, your head resting
between their breasts and collarbones.
Your first loves, the small, soft things--
feathers, young animals, blushing puffs of bloom
from the mimosa tree. Start to collect
the harder things: stones, sticks, shells--
pockets and pails of them. Treasures.
Become graceful. Enter the water,
begin to swim. Dance unashamed, arms wide.
Legs pump the creaking swing,
arc against the sky.
Learn to pay your respects: climb trees,
discover, but do not touch, birds’ nests.
Study the contents of the tidal pool--
sand dollar, sea olive, translucent crab.
Smell the poppy; do not pick it.
Resolve to break nothing.
--This poem first appeared in Split Rock Review
On the trail to the ruined textile mill, the wild azaleas
are in bloom, the magnolia thick with fat white buds.
I mean to set my mantle of care down beside
this stony creek, hide it among the hardwoods.
Each step is a lightening, the sound of water
flowing over rocks a mercy.
After a mile or more, the Civil War relic comes into view,
banked and boarded beside the shoals.
There’s a breach in the old bricks and I step through,
into the dim and dusty quiet.
A rustling in the eaves, small shower of leaves.
Doves or pigeons, I imagine, a snug nest of squirrels.
Instead a length of black rope falls from the rafters,
thuds on the ground, slithers into a dark corner.
I shiver, slip back where I came from--
into the day, the spring, this world.
--this poem first appeared in Flycatcher
©2015 Kathleen Brewin Lewis