Artist Statement: Fear of each other, fear of not having enough, fear of the unknown keep us separate and make us vulnerable to manipulation for someone else's greed or need. Naming fear and celebrating the fact that we are all woven together open the way ahead to a world of racial, economic, and environmental justice.
Now ask yourself— who might it serve that you
would grow downhearted? What do you choose
to see? What will your seeing make? The “news”
selected and relayed, mirrored and soon
a billion times its weight, weighs on the mind
that seeks it out. What is the new? The breath
just drawn, the thought not yet enfleshed, the kind
word being said, the stars that press unseen
overhead. “It is the unforeseen
upon which” Poe said, “we must calculate
most largely.” Impossible to separate
misery and joy-- the living edge of mystery.
Time’s unfolding, dauntless, holds you dear.
The universe has no need of your fear.
Could this be the Afterlife
our ancestors dreamed?
After all, our flesh
is nothing more
than the soil they tilled,
the molecules of air they breathed—
reassembled. What matter are we
If the sum of this material world
holds true from the origin—
nothing created or destroyed.
from form to form,
Then what does this heaven
ask of us?
the freedom from want
some of us enjoy—
surely these are Eden’s longed-for ease,
a paradise most on this planet can’t conceive—or claim.
And, Hell’s alive here
in prisons we erect—
the skyless cells,
the “fix” we have to have,
no decent place we can
afford to house ourselves.
Still, some of us choose to live
what looks like salvation
in gated enclaves,
Among our own kind.
Listen: Every living
multicellular thing every complex being
arose only after single cells embraced the alien:
making this poem
as well as cave art chariots bubble gum spiked heels Buicks
A mesh of us and not-us.
We’re each a little cosmos.
What is the gut even now
bereft of its essential microbes?
We sing our brief chemical chorus.
superior in no way
to the planet’s least particle.
Dear weedy verge, dear wasted edge
unkempt along the sidewalk
thank you for your gift of bloom—
speedwell, field pansies, sun-
burst dandelion. Dear sturdy crown
of gold exploding in seed stars,
dear delicate faces lifted
to the light, dear blue eyes
tucked in rampant vining,
this is my letter back to you,
this is my thanks
to those who
let you be,
to everything that flowers
Leatha Kendrick’s fifth collection of poems, And Luckier, was published by Accents Publishing in April, 2020. Her poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction appear widely in journals including Tar River Poetry, Appalachian Heritage, New Madrid Review, the Southern Poetry Review, the James Dickey Review, the Baltimore Review, the Southern Women’s Review, and in anthologies: The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume 3—Contemporary Appalachia; Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; The Kentucky Anthology: 200 Years of Writing in the Bluegrass; and What Comes Down to Us – Twenty-Five Contemporary Kentucky Poets, among others. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky.