Kathleen Winter


At steep places of memory
they fixed a rail.
With oil from an olive grove
they coated the furniture
of our limbs.
When the sun rose blurred
by its own precipitation
and cherry petals could
have been frost,
we scanned from limestone
heights, searched narrows
of the valley for a trace
of beloved friends who
had only just left us,
slipping at waking bright
into mind but fading
as swiftly when we rose.
A church bell’s invisible
metal, alchemized
by violence, hangs
in the March chill.
Woven into its floor
the valley’s weft:
rows of seeds eager
for their sweet time,
at the cusp of expression—
release. We anticipate
the afternoon of
our own ripeness,
fed by energies
our friends suspended
even in their absence:
glitter scatter
held static in glass,
where an ancient mirror
meets its carved wood
frame; deer head
held for ten thousand years
on a pebble: indelible
patterns the spirits
engraved, which
in transmission, in gift,
we sometimes chance
to lay our hands on.



Kathleen Winter is the author of Transformer, finalist for the 2021 Northern California Book Awards, I will not kick my friends, winner of the Elixir Poetry Prize, and Nostalgia for the Criminal Past, winner of the Antivenom Prize. Her poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, The New Republic, The New Statesman, Blackbird, Memorious, Copper Nickel, Cincinnati Review and Colorado Review. She was granted fellowships by Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Dora Maar House, James Merrill House, Cill Rialaig Project, and Vermont Studio Center. Awards include the Rochelle Ratner Memorial Prize, Ralph Johnston Fellowship, and Poetry Society of America The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award. She’s an associate editor with 32 Poems.