Leatha Kendrick

Light Arrives from Far Off After Years

In the side yard the grass is busy
refreezing after the day’s thaw.  It’s dark,
the sky done up in sheer cloud,
fine as tulle.  The half moon’s heavy-
lidded eye gazes without interest
from the birch.  A woman, shapeless
in down coat, holds a leash.  Nothing
marks the place – ordinary strip of street
and wet soil, small black dog, faceless
sky, woman in a hood – except her memory: 
the same moon, another patch
of grass, a girl held in the scent of wind
and earth, her breath bright clouds suffused 
by a different streetlight, the brief ordinary, 
everything neither right nor wrong.  Only the grace
of being in it.  Enough, more than enough.


House Beautiful

The twigs of every bush along the walk,
every stick of furniture in rooms flat
and glassy as Narcissus’s pool, each vase
and lamp and magazine arranged 
with a casual precision — “casual
precision” an oxymoron that ought
to be a clue.  Step too far in,
the net contracts. You’re set to be digested
by Architectural Digest’s dream 
rooms, eaten by an image,
dissolved into house.  Shelter

mutated to costume.  Evolution
of the hearth, the hot red maw
grinding women’s lives masticates
their hours and days. Thought lost
to “keeping.”  Escapes small
and close: a garden sometimes,
nursing a child, or needlework 
at evening by a window, and, 
as the years devolve, perhaps
the heavy gloss of a magazine.


In Your Pocket

Carry what you need, what
you need to hear – the poem
that says what must be
said that very moment:  you are
alive, this is what it feels like
to be lost or found, to be a mother
watching her son, a father 
whose jokes carry down
to the fifth generation.  The pine
outside your back door never sang
in this wind until now.  A yellow
bird never thrust its long bill
into the stump or flicked off
the moss until this hour, teaching you
its name.  Carry the thing you have
to have to live.  The stench of the wallow,
the bouquets of honeysuckle, daisies, 
and red clover, the hen’s malevolent
eye.  Tuck the dark into your shirt,
let the cat’s rough tongue give you back
your childish fingers.  No one but you 
knows what you love. 


Leatha Kendrick is the author of four books of poetry, including Almanac of the Invisible, Larkspur Press, 2014. Her essays, poems and fiction appear widely in journals and anthologies, including The Baltimore Review, The Southern Women’s Review, Appalachian Heritage; and What Comes Down to Us – Twenty-Five Contemporary Kentucky Poets. She leads workshops at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky, where she is part of their Author Academy faculty. Recipient of two Al Smith Fellowships in poetry, she received the Sallie Bingham Award from the Kentucky Foundation for Women in 2013.


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