Four Poems by Kari Fisher

Praise #6

Praise the difference
between frog & toad
(which you can’t remember
but if given your chance
to hold either again
you would dampen
your palms in hope
and reverence).

Railroad through Cobden, IL

In the nineties, a man and I sit on a porch in Little Egypt, Cobden,
lucky for a farm with $300 rent. He’d made our swing and hauls water 

for the cistern.  He chops wood and it rains our first 
27 days. We drink beer and listen for the 11 o’clock train ghost 

whistle. The farm grows pollen and rocks and stray dogs. The two-deed-
ago owner tramps here: knows the caves, the deer stands, even the volunteer 

daffodil hill.  It is night.   You’ll never see him says the landlord. He pauses, there’s
the whistle, the bump of empty cars, and whine of metal on metal. We clean the coop 

and start with chickens, Plymouth Rocks. The Trail of Tears is maybe three 
miles away. We think guineas indigenous to Africa could work. Someone 

gives us three ganders and we surrender the door-less porch 
to poultry and crap. Each evening soundless owls come 

for the guineas; then, a celebratory flush of wings and the train’s echo.   
A mink takes the hens and the dogs, the geese. After I leave, 

the man gives away the oversized porch swing and moves to town 
having no need of abandoned anniversary presents.


The Collective Sound of Corn

July night, my parents’ pop-up camper
hill of my grandparents’ South Branch Farm:
the moon, the stars, the yard light outside the pole barn
all hemmed with corn to the north. Convenience
and age: the outhouse gone, hog pens empty, dairy cows
dry. Gone the pets, stray cats, the wild turkey restoration
project. Even the concrete silos bare except for some cobs
until October. My mother and her mother carry latticed
green yard chairs past the brick edging crocheted with wilted
pansies around the house. Sit in the fenced front yard
where once chickens troubled the vegetable garden.

Tonight we hens only: soon, my sister and I will walk—
hems of nighties dusting grasses and clover—
to the camper with its crank-up roof and walls,
its delicate leveling bubble sole evidence 
of my father’s earlier presence. We listen instead
of sleep in this good thick air. Their words dull through
the warm dark, but their clicks, sighs, and a tired laugh
are clear. Their talk slows, punctuated more with silence,
crickets, breeze on dirty lilac leaves, an owl.
From our orange mattress, through the zippered
screen window we believe for a moment that the silence wins.

Then we hear it: the nodal roots flex against the soil, ripple the stalks,
tassel on tassel. The first leaf sheath exhales into first leaf collar into first
leaf blade into second leaf blade into whorl. Repeated thousands,
millions, near infinite times. We’ll sleep through the aluminum
door closing, my mother straining herself into the camper, toeing
off one shoe, then another; this summer lullaby they listened for.

Our Lady of Canceled Plans

Our Lady of Canceled Plans, of
contingencies that can’t be held
in one simple Roman alphabet,

Our Lady of Broken Snow blowers,
the missing gas-oil mix, cars with dead
batteries and frozen passenger doors,

Our Lady of Blocked Tear Ducts, of
migraines and not a single aspirin
in the house:  if my throat closes to

words and diphthongs, to consonants,
to vowels, if I can’t utter a single digraph
as in the ea of meat: please pray for me.

Kari Fisher is a poet and writer who lives with her family in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. She taught adults for almost 30 years, most recently at Normandale Community College. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Rainier Writing Workshop (Pacific Lutheran University at Tacoma) and an MA in English from Southern Illinois University. Although Kari has lived in seven different states, both Cobden, Illinois and Watowan County, Minnesota feature prominently in her writing. Her work has been published in St. Paul Almanac, Blast Furnace, and Clementine.

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