May 2003

Karen White


Karen White Karen White's poetry has appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Karamu and elsewhere. She is at home and work on Lake Wateree in South Carolina.

Driving Forward, Facing Backward    Click to hear in real audio

Red bluffs flatter the sky,
my green eyes,

pave the roads a peculiar color
that won't throw me over

the rainbow.  Instead, I'm honking
through mountains, tunneling

parallel to a river bed I once rode
backwards by train toward a soda

fountain in Shoshoni, the thickest
malts I've sucked through a straw since beatniks

and grade school, since hoola hoops
and Chinese jump rope, scoops

of snow ice cream like melting years,
hissy fits, a giant spider web from pool table to beer

bash at Vedauwoo, the moon
a flash atop the prudent

boulders, "earth-born" in Arapaho.
I am earth-born, water wrapped

in thin skin like antelope sprinkled on high
plains and Flying

Heart charolais in herds.
I am multi-layered,

Chugwater over Goose Egg over Casper
over Madison.  Rock deposited and eroded,

folded and intruded upon, not as deep
as a canyon but reaching,

rooted and budding, rabbitbrush,
a low shrub, yellow flowers pushing

through snow, winter browse
or dye for warmth, blankets.  Drowsing

by Dead Horse Fire, between where
I came from and where I go, a mariner

in my bed always willing me to lakes
and rivers, always taking

me back, a blessing mixed
by wind, that trickster,

that dreaming Coyote of my
unconscious, I realize

the junipers are burnt sticks, the sage,
ash and I am not wearing a seat belt, what sacrilege!

so I can look over my shoulder.



Perimenopause: Around The Time
The Moon Stops
   Click to hear in real audio

You don't know it's slowing
but the furniture in your brain is on edge
and your back is always there.  The comfort
of darkness never croons enough.  When the woman
with meditated hair presents you as next, you are
relieved until the wrinkles above your knees
frown, and you must walk down
stairs to get everywhere.
The nude descending.
A red carpet spreads itself haphazardly.
Skin, it seems, is combustible at odd times,
fearing beards and mustaches.  You peel it off
like sheets of paper and write letters
to friends pretending you remember what
tasted like yesterday's lunch.  Most of this
will pass like the cat that sprayed your
porch door.  You only hope
that when the stopping stops it's on your side
of the sky.  You've grown accustomed
to the ceiling rippling with light,
the reflection of a cycle.




Karen White: Poetry
Copyright 2003 The Cortland Review Issue 23The Cortland Review