Paula Kaufman : 21st Century : Poetry : June 2019

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Paula Kaufman hails from the only state entirely in the Appalachian Mountains. She likes homemade jam, local honey, black licorice laces, her grandma’s meringues and other sweetness.

21st Century

Asking the Stars Advice

Pea tendrils don’t know where to land,
but always rise up.
And the morning glory vine.
Potato roots embroider earth,
thread down,
and each flower knows
how to make seeds or fruit,
how to return after frost.
Moon climbs the same ladder each evening,
stars need no map home.
Rooster reminds the world he is male
at random intervals.
Sky, forest, field.
Wheat gilds before it’s cut.
Mountains stretch emerald, ruby, charcoal, diamond,
without being told.
What is your message, dear rooster?
How do you climb so swiftly, bean vine?
Stars, share your secret:
how do you remember
the mythology of your birth?
Reach cosmos before sunrise?
How do you always chart
the same course home?


Folk School Life

Brasstown, North Carolina,
fireflies marble-diffuse trees.
Deer hiss, one kicks left, another right,
fawn navigates diversion.
I bike down the long hill,
past blacksmith’s orange window glow,
raccoon whisker moon.
I am zung by fireflies dashing
hither and thither.
My body tired from broad forking.
At the square dance, hands extended,
nails blue-gray with iron,
dancers spirited as lightning bugs,
swinging sparkling beacons,
animating forest.
We are makers—
acknowledge pea’s crunch,
tomato’s sweetness,
wild-berry-bramble forage.
Each day I note signs of ripening.
Basil leaves anoint.
This season,
more gleefully chilly than usual.
Brasstown is a miniature ecosystem
with uneven weather predictions.
But here I touch balance,
a night’s seamless transition.
Plants keep growing after sunset.
Darkness is tart, plump, blackberry.
Mornings, cool light.