Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Travelling at Night: Kathryn Hunt

Often I have stood under the falling sky
dark with its plentitude of stars
and listened as my father called them out,
Orion and the seven sisters of the Pleiades;
Antares, huge and crimson in its dying.

The only star I know for sure
from all my father's lessons
is the North Star, cardinal star of every wanderer,
and beyond that single blaze it's all a guess.

Now he shuffled between his frailties,
his sideways gimp from falling off a horse,
the raspy draw from years of smoking,
his stubborn, hillocked laborer's hands
still seeking out their tools. It's the simple bones
beneath the sun-burnt skin,
the missing finger on the right,
I'll miss the most among my
multitude of longings.

"Let's go outside," he says.
"I want to show you something."
We turn our faces toward the sky.

Editor: T Clear

I've long enjoyed Kathryn Hunt's work, beginning ten+ years ago when she joined my writing group. There exists in her work an elegance and richness that defies her unadorned use of language. In this poem, especially, we are asked to examine the close-at-hand details of a life lived in intimate contact with the earth -- from "his sideways gimp" to "the missing finger" -- while at the same time standing in awe of the greater vault of the nighttime sky and the profound mysteries it offers. It's a modern and yet age old interpretation of Blake, where he impels us to "Hold infinity in the palm of your hand."


Please visit my blog here for another poem by Kathryn Hunt.

Kathryn Hunt is an American writer and filmmaker and makes her home in Port Townsend, Washington. Her stories and poems have appeared in Rattle, The Sun, Willow Springs, Crab Orchard Review, and Open Spaces, among other magazines. She is a director and producer of documentary films, including Take This Heart, a feature-length documentary that was honored with the Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism. She has recently completed a memoir, The Province of Leaves. When she's not at her desk she can be found in her garden, trying to stay ahead of the weeds and the deer.

This week's editor, T. Clear, hails from Seattle, US. She is a founder of Floating Bridge Press, and her work has been widely published. Currently she manages production and shipping for a Seattle glass artist. She is enamored of blue flowers, cats, Ireland, slow food, her multitude of sisters and her two sons.

For more Tuesday Poems enter the sidebar where Tuesday Poets post poems by themselves or poets they have selected.


Helen Lowe said...

As a lover of stars, although we also call the Pleiades 'Matariki' here and ours is the South polar star and not the north, I love this poem. Fabulous choice--so thank you, T.

lucychili said...

great poem

Jennifer Compton said...

yeah - nice

susan t. landry said...

thank you, T., for posting this --and especially for including the video. for me, there is a whole other transporting of language that occurs when i am privileged to hear a poet read her own words. (thank you also, for enriching our appreciation of this poet's writing, with the additional poem and your comments on your blog. wonderful....)


Melissa Green said...

Lovely poem, T. Wonderful to hear a new poet read her work. xo

Taradharma said...

love the video of her reading. what a touching portrait of her father and their connection. Her physical descriptions of him bring him to life for me. Love it.

Kathryn Hunt said...

Thank you all for your kind words. So lovely of T. to select these poems -- one about my father, one about my mother -- and post them here and in her blog. Strangely enough, I see that someone from Gillette, Wyoming visited Tuesday's Poem just now -- my father grew up on a ranch near Gillette (in the American West, for those who live elsewhere) and my grandparents moved to Gillette after they sold the ranch and retired. Small world.
Kathryn Hunt

T. said...

I've always been of the belief that the written word and the spoken word are two separate art forms, much like a novel and a movie based on a novel are two different things.

Hearing a poem read in the poet's voice adds a richness and texture that the poem on the page simply cannot contain.

Yay internet. Yay YouTube!

Jayne said...

Isn't she sweet? I loved listening to her read her beautiful poem while scanning the words at the same time--like listening to music with the lyrics in hand. Feel much closer to it.
Lovely. :)