Mary Kaiser

At first crack it split limbs, blasted stones

from fences, knocked me flat to the grass

like a beast, heaves tightening, spilling

iron. I should not have been in the field

so late. Bolts diffused behind cloud

flashed a cold noon against the night sky,

every jot of the oaks clear as doomsday,

pushing their leafage forward till the fringes

brushed over my ditch. Between flashes

that rendered me blind, in a stroke of white

that would make a murderer’s beard glow

electric, the trees ignited in a burning web.

Even now, I can feel those blazing threads

stitching me into wet loam while the oaks weep.

Dawn pulses out of the martin’s throat, and

work begins, swish of skirts, chime of spoons.

No choice but to fold into the batter, shut

the night’s lid firmly, turn the heart out,

pick up the morning and try to retrieve the days

my night of unknowing scattered like a box

of spools tipped, spinning, lost through a crack

in my history, such a waste of good string.

Mary Kaiser’s chapbook Falling into Velázquez won the 2006 Slapering Hol award. Her poems have also appeared in Portland Review, Cincinnati Review, New Orleans Review, Perihelion, and poem/memoir/story. Her current project, from which “He Is Struck by Lightning” is taken, is a collection of poems about the nineteenth-century Shaker community at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. Born and raised in Detroit, Mary teaches American literature at Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a 2009-10 recipient of an Individual Artist fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

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