Issue 30: Kate Behrens
Seven Days on the Hill
The hill is an asterisk in the white spaces.
The hill, as knitted matter,
has no trajectories.
Like stars half-remembered as the non-fixtures
of promise (greener, redder, perhaps
leading somewhere) and seemingly afloat,
rock rose flowers flutter…
Leaves of bushes rustle-up
an otherness that comes
and goes. A damp-flannel drizzle is little
of what soil needs, but enough
to still rock roses.
Marjoram, buttercups and a mowerʼs stuttering
start-up block out new construction sitesʼ
bite at a fragment of birdsong.
On the hilltop the mutter of humans fades
to an undercurrent.
Dogged dogs in dogwood clumps
and the chiff-chaffsʼ broody banging-on
cheer under loosened cloud
(and those smudgy moods come from a dodgy world-view).
A fieldʼs white smear: not water but daisies,
and the hedge warbler is far from euphoric,
rather, after another male warbler.
Is that crazy laughter or, late in the season,
Who is the stranger, loitering here forever?
As if we were cartographers,
our words stain nameless
animals, seem to thread one day
to others, and things glimpsed through mist
or a motorwayʼs haze, get sucked
down neurological pathways…
It must be a cricket of some sort
ticking like a small birdʼs heartbeat,
or the quickening of sequestered
thoughts, that flit from the hill to your existence,
till all I can see are ribwortʼs shadows
that dot a few feet in front of my foot.
There is an owl who drools
his dream on the lip
between waking and sleep.
Or thatʼs how it seems,
as they appear, in a different guise,
choosing (through a whitened lens)
views without depths and shade.
At times you think fight
gazing into dark they refute,
but someone has to keep us safe.
Dark grows deep against too bright.
Now sunrise quietens him,
and your eyes are forced to look again.
Up on the hill, harsh wind, unfinished business
that time neglects to heal,
yet a gentler horizon,
small birds in the thorns, redwings maybe,
or a curl of smoke that crawls on the air
like something seeping,
a paused deer,
untouched by human,
relieve accusing eyes of blame.
What remains unsaid
is subsumed with the voices of those who died.
Lime Tree, Mid-Summer / Dream Bird
The blind witness fingers too-warm air, arms full
of owls: a foil to repetitive cycles
made by some souped-up car
grazing the night on hard bends,
as though we must not forget
A dented moon blazes
through windows, where labyrinths of dream
endowed more animals with messages:
tonight a bird landed on me ʽat home.ʼ
Pure love—I walked it to freedom.
Perhaps it was her, on her anniversary,
but why not believe in every lifeʼs capacity
to shame, or bring sacred relief.
Kate Behrens fourth collection, Transitional Spaces was published by Two Rivers Press in April 2022. Other poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including Mslexia, Blackbox Manifold, Stand, The High Window, Poetry Salzburg Review, Wild Court, An Anthology of Poetry, The Arts of Peace (Two Rivers Press), Axon: Creative Explorations, Rast (where they were translated into Macedonian), Noon and as Oxford Brookesʼ ʽPoem of the Weekʼ.
Copyright © 2023 by Kate Behrens, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author