Literature 8-27-2007

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Kelly Barnhill

"What Light: This Week's Poem,” sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers, brings you a poem every week by a Minnesota poet, selected by a panel of writers and publishers. Look for our anthology, “What Light,” at Magers and Quinn in Uptown or on line.


Poem for those two guys I saw having sex under a tree in south Minneapolis.

At first I thought you were dancing
to some music I couldn’t hear
or didn’t notice when I saw you
through the window by the clothing
shop under the elm tree with the orange
stripe around the middle, blue shirt
tangos with plaid like two birds
with hooked wings against the clouds
until I saw the gleam of white skin
as jeans slithered down hard thighs
and my eyes grew large, wide,
and I didn’t mean to be scandalized
but I couldn’t help but wonder
if you knew one another at all
couldn’t help but cry into my too hot
coffee over someone else’s clothed
encounter, I buried my eyes in fingers
tried to erase it all from my mind
but something now pulls me to that spot,
that day when you couldn’t wait
to get home, laid your hands on the cool
bricks praying headlights wouldn’t
fall on your heaving shoulders, feeling
hot breath on your neck, on your ear
two birds with wings on fire, spinning
towards the lonely moon.


Kelly Barnhill’s work can be seen in Thin Coyote, The Heartlands Today and Ariston. She was a finalist for the Jerome Foundation’s Emerging Writer’s Fellowship, and received the Abigail Quigley McCarthy Award and the Creative Nonfiction Mentorship through SASE. She is an active member of the Minneapolis Writers Workshop. Ms. Barnhill is currently finishing up two literary novels, entitled “Love. And Other Heinous Crimes.” and “The People Who Lie In Bed”.