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Wednesday, April 06, 2022


by Katherine West 

“A Room of Memory” by Chiharu Shiota (2009): old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Inside, there's a memory of neighbors on an evening porch, of burning then warming sun, of a half-feral cat leaving freedom for langurous hours of touch, of cold night then the warmth of a shared bed. 

Inside, there's a fire going and moody jazz in the background, an old watercolor of a Ukrainian boy and girl in traditional clothes. They are on their way to market; seen from behind and one side, their bodies are full of purpose. 

Inside, there's the sound of birds outside; sometimes just wings whooshing back and forth, sometimes a little squawk and chatter. Faraway, a songbird. 

Outside, sun is trying to warm the morning. Outside, clouds are burning off; red ants are waking up, appearing at the door of their mound like holy men dressed in the color of life. 

Outside, the first truck rumbles down the gravel road, kicking up its own cloud. Outside, the crack of target practice, to the south, a helicopter.

Outside, the first shell drops on an apartment building already abandoned by its residents who now live in the subway. The first paratrooper touches down. The first tank goes up in flames. 

Outside, the first wildflowers glow like a small sunrise amongst dry, white grass. Outside, the ravens are mating aloft. 

Inside, is poetry from Ukraine. 

You are the train that will pour
burning wine on the skin,
so that it will blaze
(Natalka Bioltserkivets)

Outside, is poetry from Ukraine, a long line of refugees with bundles, like leafcutter ants carrying off the petals of roses.  

Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near Silver City. She has written three collections of poetry: The Bone Train, Scimitar Dreams, and Riddle, as well as one novel, Lion Tamer. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Writing in a Woman's Voice, Lalitamba, Bombay Gin, The New Verse News, Tanka Journal, Splash!, Eucalypt, and Southwest Word FiestaThe New Verse News nominated her poem "And Then the Sky" for a Pushcart Prize in 2019. In addition she has had poetry appear as part of art exhibitions at the Light Art Space gallery in Silver City, New Mexico and at the Windsor Museum in Windsor, Colorado. She is also an artist