Two poems by Kate Fetherston

Kate Fetherston

Kate Fetherston's first book of poems, Until Nothing More Can Break, is due out from Antrim House later this spring.  Her poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including North American Review, Hunger Mountain, Nimrod, and Third Coast. She co-edited Manthology: Poems on the Male Experience, (University of Iowa) and Open Book: Essays from the Postgraduate Writers' Conference, (Cambridge Scholars Press). Kate holds an MFA from Vermont College and was a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize in 2008 and 2010. She's received Pushcart nominations from 2002 to 2011. Kate is a psychotherapist in private practice in Montpelier, Vermont.  

Fixing It

One hundred winters ago, a horse huddled
beneath this carriage house in a fieldstone
and earthen pen waiting for hay
forked through floorboards, snorting
and stamping for summer heat's
prickle along its back.

I am bent to a wheel I cannot see.

The carriage house lists now against a ragged
breathwork of clay and frost heaves. A ghost horse
still whinnies under our uneasy
car and we agree the structure needs
a fix. You tear out rotten floorboards, layers
of poverty and make-do: tar paper, carpet, weight-
bearing beams supported by nothing.

I cannot bear this weight. I rest on nothing.

This morning you find a nest of midnight
bees homing between crumbling stone and old
cement. Sorry, you say, they
have to go. The danger of swarming, the nearness
of death.

A blind moon squeezes my heart open and shut,

Up the hill, I'm ripping weeds from lilies when
you poke your head out from the work
below, a halo of black
buzzing in your hair. Laughing, you call, These
bees are gentle—they can stay. You shake
your head and the fat
wizards lift into wind, drift into my open
throated peonies.

Each bee in its life makes but a teaspoon of honey.

Lazy and pleased, they keep their insect council
as you prance like a boy in June's green sun.
Floating somewhere in the air, I lean on my shovel
and watch until you disappear.

Enough by god, and nothing more.




Old Math

Little zeroes of shrimp hide in my Pad Thai
as I lean on tired elbows at the Royal

Orchid Restaurant pretending not to listen
to my love's friend Zeb complaining

how, when he retires, his wife will make him
move to Flatbush. And my dear one, warming

to the subject, offers, “Yeah, remember when
that ex of mine sent me back into the three alarm

fire for her slides?” Of course, Zeb does, so he says,
“How about that babe when she

was done with you ending up with your
brass knocker collection?” While they trade

damage reports, I count lotus flowers triangulating
on the tablecloth and remember that long ago

dinner date who'd nudged Father Knows Best
glasses up his nose, explaining he'd bought

my paintings because all he had was a rented
TV and a bed. He'd figured by now some

woman would've maxed his credit
cards on kitsch then dumped him, so

he was surprised to find himself
alone in a near empty house

with cash to burn. A pair of cheap candles
dimmed as his blue cardigan slalomed

toward my side of the table but his eyes
snapped like a junkyard dog when I

reached for the check. He spat, “I believe
in the old math where men

pay for everything.” In the bone
marrow accounted between that

night and this, I've sustained
my own losses. Who can calculate

reparation? I can't count that high without
falling asleep.  Suddenly I'm back at the Royal
Orchid where, dead quiet, the men's
feral eyes pin me, glinting,

accusing.  “For Chrissake, you two,
give it a rest.” I load a fork of curry

for each of them, “Taste this;
there's plenty.”