Three Poems by Katharine Coles

Three Poems by Katharine Coles

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Appear as hovercraft,
Smoke and mirrors

Vanishing into air, but feel
Yourself as gristle

And keratin, sinew, barb,
And bone. To rise takes

All the power you
Can muster, more work than

Running yourself into
Heart and breath, more even

Than sleep. A body can’t rest
On the invisible, must

Twist and shift, muscle
Draft and current, wind strafing

The eyes. However you make it
Look effortless, do not

Deceive yourself flight will
Set you free. Want it

Anyway, wind above
And beneath you, lifting hard.




Unwieldy-hearted, browsing the blue, I never
Imagine looming. Draw my shadow
Self behind, cast down, a figure
Dimming waves, fields, the shining

Pinnacled cities. Send people
Netherward, from up here too tiny to be
Thought of, heads upturning
When the windows tremble. What a

Distance to travel, pulse and froth
Rumbling the air, chewing, bearing smaller
Spheres, like anyone armed to tumble forth
Into gravity. So relieved, my gondola

Lofts beneath its gassy envelope, my breath
Held. A spark will set me off.




She doesn’t want to harm me, so
She hums. She prefers living alone,
Needing a single twig, just one
Hole. Like me she likes browsing

The desert where a breeze wafts
Her dry, where she dozes
On sand and ephemerals
Astonish by the thousands,

Brilliant and willing when the brief
Rains wake them. Out here, a female
Can do it all on her own
Time, and will, and goes on

Choosing, sounding herself entire,
One bare horizon to another.




Katharine ColesKatharine Coles’s seventh collection of poems, Wayward, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2019; in 2018, she published a memoir, Look Both Ways. She has received awards from the NEA, the NSF, the NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Utah.

Read three poems by Katharine Coles previously appearing in Terrain.org.

Header photo by Wang LiQiang, courtesy Shutterstock.


Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.