Literature 7-2-2007

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Patricia Kirkpatrick

"What Light: This Week's Poem" is sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers. It 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.

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Patricia Kirkpatrick


among us
their breathing
sides slim
brown loaves soft

like candles
petals quick
grace in the grass

mostly alone except
when a pair comes
at dusk or dark
jiggered haunches
running after

each other like hot
lines of lead
the inked point
of bristles a brush
with death etched

in snow against pavement
hundreds of years
after Durer after Hokusai
gnawed rose
silent roan

and grey against violets
near the labor of birth
let its tremor begin
on a moonlit
hill a forage of

the round eye of one
holding this flicker
of wilderness



There are rabbits, ancient, familiar, wild, all over my yard. All over Saint Paul when I walk. The potato chip of the natural world says a Google search.
In winter I feed carrots to rabbits knowing in summer they’ll eat all the violets.. A friend—often sustained by nature herself—asked if I were a “nature poet”.
Irish poet Eavan Boland said when I interviewed her, “There is no longer going to be a nature poem.” Isn’t nature, with or without optimism, at least a setting? Is it different than a house, a classroom, a library? I don’t usually write poems like “Rabbits,” short lines, enjambed, in which the vestige of the sentence has been lopped off. Another poet said he could live without grass. I cannot.


Patricia Kirkpatrick received a 2006 McKnight Fellowship Loft Award in Poetry.
She has published a book of poetry, Century’s Road, a chapbook,
Orioles, and several books for young readers. She is poetry editor for Water-Stone Review and teaches in the MFA program at Hamline University.