Kathleen Brewin Lewis
The naturalist John Burroughs wrote a short piece that began, "I am in love with this world." Me too. I try to articulate my gusto for the natural world in my poetry. My first chapbook, Fluent in Rivers, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2014, and my most recent publications include Southern Humanities Review, Cider Press Review, and Menacing Hedge. Here in Georgia, I'm senior editor of the online journal Flycatcher.
Collusion on the Middle Provo
He knows it is my first time
so he is patient, leading me
down the path to the riverbed,
through meadows of red clover,
lamb’s ears, saffron yarrow.
He stands me amid the stones
in the river’s rush, places
the rod in my hand, covers
my hand with his, talks of technique:
how to cast, mend, hook, reel.
And so I unfurl, over and over again,
until I feel what he means:
the tug and tear of a fish on the line.
Let the line run when the fish jerks,
he coaches, reel it smoothly in as the fish tires.
And when the trout rises, he laughs,
congratulates me, scoops
my fish into his net,
tells me I’m a natural.
He says to wet my hands
in the bracing current then cup them
while he unhooks, lifts, puts the trout
in touch with me.
I want to press my lips to her,
she is so marvelous, pulsing, sleek
against my palms, instead I bend
and whisper so he can’t hear me,
that I’m sorry for hurting her
and I wish her well.
I turn my back to him,
lower her into the glistening river
that snatches, bears her away.
Landscape with River Birch
There is no river here,
just a gunite swimming pool.
You were planted for your bark,
crispy curls of taupe, cinnamon, cream.
But you grew too tall, forked over the roof,
cast the climbing roses into shade.
He resolved to remove your offending limb,
stanch the shower of leaves
that threatened to clog the gutter,
allow more sun to fall
on his odorless buds.
I bought him a book about pruning,
told him it mattered how and when
a tree was cut. He said he didn’t need a book,
was mad to use his ladder and saw,
wouldn’t wait for summer
when your sap would slow.
He pulled the saw teeth back and forth
until he severed one of your arms.
The pruning book warned
that river birches are bleeders,
shouldn’t be cut in spring
when their juices freely flow. For days
you’ve been weeping without ceasing,
sap pooling on the driveway, a little lake.
The drops spatter when they land.
I stand in the drip,
look up at your wound,
let the tears fall on my face.
-The above poems appear in Fluent in Rivers, FutureCycle Press, 2014.
©2015 Kathleen Brewin Lewis