Sunday, February 4, 2018

Missing Kay

 Kathryn Stripling Byer (NC Poet Laureate 2005- 2009) has been gone since last June but her poetry is as powerfully present as ever.  She and I shared a love for the strong women of these mountains.

Wildwood Flower

I hoe thawed ground
with a vengeance. Winter has left
my house empty of dried beans
and meat. I am hungry

and now that a few buds appear
on the sycamore, I watch the road
winding down this dark mountain
not even the mule can climb
without a struggle. Long daylight

and nobody comes while my husband
traps rabbits, chops firewood, or
walks away into the thicket. Abandoned
to hoot owls and copperheads,

I begin to fear sickness. I wait
for pneumonia and lockjaw. Each month
I brew squaw tea for pain.
In the stream where I scrub my own blood
from rags, I see all things flow
down from me into the valley.

Once I climbed the ridge
to the place where the sky
comes. Beyond me the mountains continued
like God. Is there no place to hide
from His silence? A woman must work

else she thinks too much. I hoe
this earth until I think of nothing
but the beans I will string,
the sweet corn I will grind into meal.

We must eat. I will learn
to be grateful for whatever comes to me.


Barbara Rogers said...

Her wonderful words continue the life and spirit of a creative woman. Thanks for sharing.

Bernie said...

I totally understand why you would miss this amazing lady with the wonderful words.

Cathy Keller said...

I miss my kindred spirit as well. In their way they have wonderful influence on our lives. I thank God for them! Wishing you well!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Beautiful poem!

Deanna said...

Hi Vicki. I am glad I chose tonight to pop in after a long absence. Your friend’s words spoke to me in a way most poetry does not. I usually don’t get it. I am sorry for your loss.

Thérèse said...

Wonderful words of wisdon to reflect on.

Jim Egerton said...

I keep thanking you for the people and places you introduce to me. A big thank you for Paulette Jiles' NEWS OF THE WORLD. So damn good. Wonderful prose and cadence. The COLOR OF LIGHTNING next.