Three Poems by Kate Fetherston

Kate Fetherston

Kate Fetherston

Kate Fetherston is an artist and poet living in Montpelier, Vermont. Kate’s first book of poems, Until Nothing More Can Break, was released in 2012. Her poems and essays in numerous journals including North American Review, Hunger Mountain, and Third Coast. Kate’s received grants from the Vermont Council on the Arts and Vermont Studio Center. Her art is an intuitive interpretation of the visual world explored through color, texture, and layering. Kate’s shown in Vermont and California and her work is in private collections around the country.

THE LAKE                                                                 
July evening, you paddle
the canoe while I
lounge in its bottom
and drift with
early stars. From
shoreline woods, a hermit
thrush unlooses her
singular air. Not
to be outdone, a loon
family, skimming shadows,
shrieks from the shoals. 
rain all afternoon ripens
into a tender
lip of rose and violet that
trifles the water, plays
along your face as you
lean into the work. I barely
recognize the eager
boy scheming bows
and arrows, let alone the man
whose aim pulls us both
through the distance. Changed
and not changed
with the years, I know
you no more than that
hermit thrush, the bird with
piercing voice, knows this
summer shore, but no
less than the loon, she
who rules the passage
from this life, knows me.




November’s the old queen of grays no single hue. Her palate mixes pearl
residue of June, the cobalt vein in your wrist, ripe thimbleberry’s alizarin
rubbed with ash, stirred with sinew, with the things we said to each other
and how we stood when we said them. Knife in hand, she scrapes these
together with tiger maple and red cedar, the timbers of our hundred year old
argument, tree roots, earth and gristle, the bruise-dark words we slung
around each other’s necks, the crying alone. The chromium black silence,
finally, of being at odds. Only deep purple monkshood blooms in the garden now,
sister of nightshade, laudanum in our tea. Yawning, the old queen’s fading no matter
what we do to keep her up nights. She’s the sweet unmanageable creature who
steals in splintered prisms from behind our eyelids. Moonlight through July’s open
door: indigo and alabaster. Lilies. The deer who smell their cadmium and ochre
heaven from the woods, daring one stalk, then another. Tonight, the moon’s
hidden, the world a filament. A shell, a thin yes in the sanctuary of roses. As when
this afternoon you slept beside me, curtains drawn, hushed blood and cinder.
The old queen hoards her dirty palate, sienna and umber, mutters   
a few alto notes from two drops despair to three parts river water. Your hazel
eyes, light and the dream of light, a rock strewn shoreline, bone.




The garden now arcs toward earth but for the few
pink hibiscus blossoms shouting Don’t forget us!
And pale anemone nod assent, petaled
faces swaying in autumn wind. Last night, Mom’s voice
on the phone trembled as she lied,  I’m fine, now,
 just fine. When she needed to tell someone
how, as she pulled up to a crosswalk today,
the biker in her peripheral vision never saw that
pickup. Mom’s mind had been skimming laps
she’d planned to swim, when out of nowhere
the biker’s shaved head gleamed and flew into
light, then fell. Then the screaming. The sirens. 

Mom, she’s seven years old again, crying as fire
trucks roar in her ears. A threadbare carpet. Her father’s
last words forgotten. It is June, the month of happily
ever after. Hearing her mother, annoyed, snap
at her dad, Now,stop it.Take some bicarb of soda. You’re
being dramatic. Mom sobs into the phone, I can’t stop
hearing the sirens. And that biker, who was he?  Who
will remember?  This quiet afternoon, my love, you
and I watch the sun catch fire in trees loosening
leaves, a doubling gold.,  You and I, we’re not
young. Our years together are a glass
whose water will spill, whose surface will
break. And into that wake memory shoots
its arrows beyond us into time
exploding mute as flowers.