Kathleen Kirk

I wrote these poems with a class I teach; we were trying the epistolary form with a specific public reading in mind at our local history museum, which sponsors an annual cemetery walk, many of the scripts based on letters as historical documents. We pursued local history, American history, and our personal histories in letter poems of all sorts. In addition, I had been writing letters for Amnesty International and looking into Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians.  I’m curious about the letters we do write but also the ones we don’t write, wish we could write, would if we could, and so forth.




To a Cantaloupe

When I scooped out your seeds
with a tablespoon into a plastic cup
and then a hole in the ground
I didn’t know if you would rise up.

Your sweet flesh survived
my clumsy hope & makeshift action
in this world.

I wrote other letters over the summer
while you made a blossom
and formed a thicker skin than mine.

I peeled off international stamps,
affixed them, mailed my requests to tyrants,
not knowing
if they’d be opened or burned.

I celebrate your pale mottled rind.

When I cut you in half
I will say an approximate grace.
Do what needs to be done.


Epistle of Our Disappointments

I’ve blanked on most of my own
but my son remembers not making the baseball team,
wincing into tears in the front seat,
his sister and her friend silent in the back
on the drive home.

I can remember singing along with a cricket
wishing on a star
for something I wanted so fervently once.

That bright hope stays
the way sparklers whirled in the dark
write our names on air
but still we breathe
the sulfur of our disappointments in the smoky night.

We hear the dog whimper
beside the couch or under the bed
and that reminds us how loud it all was,
how shocking, how unexplained,
how quietly endured.



Kathleen Kirk is the author of 4 poetry chapbooks and the poetry editor for Escape Into Life.  Her work appears in numerous print and online literary journals, including Blood Lotus, Eclectica, Sweet, Pirene’s Fountain, and Spoon River Poetry Review.