"Fortune" by Katherine Soniat

Katherine Soniat

Katherine Soniat's fifth collection of poetry, The Swing Girl, was recently published by Louisiana State University Press and selected as Best Collection of 2011 by the Poetry Council of North Carolina. A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge is forthcoming from Dream Horse Press in 2012. New work appears in Women's Review of BooksAntioch Review, and Image: Art, Faith, and Mystery.


In the mine, a man's eyes belong to the panther. Wariness
in a circle of black.
Something with teeth marks him as feline
designed to tunnel for life. An energy with talons straps the lamp
on a poor man's head, then drives him down on an empty belly.

An old surgery, these men who try to cut veins and breathe
air inside a mountain.

Rag-heap-of-flies sits up in the hut, rubs its eyes. It's a boy.
One day his thoughts may catch fire and brighten, until

he wants more
than the family pig at the door,
garbage-slide down to the highway.

Rainbow flags blow from the market stalls stacked with sacks
of coca leaves. Not a ceremonious chew but enough to dull
the hungry belly.
Leaves at the bottom of a cup tell of children
who flicker and go out on the slopes. while the miners go under.