"Dogs with Amber Eyes" by Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter is the author of two poetry collections, I will not kick my friends, winner of the 2017 Elixir Poetry Prize, and Nostalgia for the Criminal Past, which received the 2013 Texas Institute of Letters first book award. She was granted fellowships from the Dobie Paisano Ranch; Dora Maar House; James Merrill House; Cill Rialaig Retreat, and Vermont Studio Center. She won the 2014 Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award, judged by Brenda Hillman, and the 2016 Poetry Society of America Emily Dickinson Award. She teaches at Sonoma State University.

Dogs with Amber Eyes

Mind’s backyard stretches centuries—
           your brothers with their sisters digging spoons and bones
in a sandbox. The lead of lost love is in china—
           arithmetic’s always been cruel.

Many teeth are sacrificed to sugar, many eyes
           caught up on points of form.
Through a hedge of holly thorns
                       children watch furniture burning—
           house with a high hat of jagged flame,

tar cloud’s tongue of secrets.
           At the cutting garden’s edge, tulips cache
dark heads of retrievers at the roots of their blossoms,
           obscurantism in the wind

flinging faintest yelps away
           toward the state of implacable
change, into an unguarded property
                       where children’s silence testifies
           to all their singing fathers dead.