Catherine Keefe

One Small Thing
by Catherine Keefe

The first time ash sticks you swear
no lip gloss as one rule to survive
wildfire season in your back
yard. To lick and swallow
as holy, or swipe with the back
of your hand? Wear on your black
sleeve all the ash you don’t taste. When
you dust to dislodge remember once
choking goodbye on a small red boat
rocking in Pacific chop, strange
guitar man singing, the way bone ash floated
distant circles forever out and not once
stopped to sink. Ash unruly. One man asleep
in bed trying to kick a cough. A desert cottontail
blazing in scrub oak. All famous now from space:
giant plume and news.

My friend says that Jesus’ breath still quivers
in our air. Do you believe the manger story? I do
believe this coming darkness is gone woman
her story-song reclaimed with mule deer shiny hoof
and mountain lion moan. To say the unnamed
lost. Lupine seed. Coast horned lizard. Western
skink. Striped skunk. Coyote. Coyote. Botta’s pocket
gopher. Dusty footed woodrat. Each day to awaken
reclaims I am dying. When I might catch fire is not
metaphor I must remember hard
to practice.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 3.

Catherine KeefeCatherine Keefe is a California poet and essayist. Her current project, Kind in Kind, explores side effects of quotidian acts of kindness. Recent work appeared in Collateral Damage, TAB: The Journal of Poetry and Poetics, and The Gettysburg Review. Catherine is a story coach, coaxing forth generational narratives. She’s a djembe drummer and hiker, learning daily what survives drought and how to peacefully coexist with rattlesnakes.

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