Poem of the Week | September 16, 2019

Kimberly Kruge is the author of Ordinary Chaos (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2019) and High-Land Sub-Tropic (Center for Book Arts, 2017; in translation: Impronta, 2019). Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, AGNI, The Iowa Review, Copper Nickel and many other publications. She founded and organizes Comala Haven, a retreat and workshop in Mexico for women writers. www.kimberlykruge.com.



All I have ever wanted in this life is to live,
but our ghosts all day climb and descend the stairs.

When you sleep, I must shake you awake at least
three times, monitor the rise and fall of your abdomen.

When the dog sleeps I must do the same.
Every morning I wonder why we planted

a tree with ephemeral blooms, and I mourn
what has been devoured by our industrious ants.

When did all this start? This absence of living?
I found a note I’d written to myself that said

Make a list combining all other lists. It would seem
I actually thought I might do this,

but instead   I starved   I ran on limp legs
I drank   I yanked out my hair   I stopped listening for

the voice of reason:
the piecewise drop of the forest’s canopy

the click of the door
the shuffle of light across

the floor and our steps on it
everywhere occasioning the din of shadow


Author’s Note

I wrote this poem when starting my newest manuscript. At the time, I didn’t know what the rest of the collection would look like or what through lines it would contain. As I kept writing, this poem stood out as a synthesizing piece, one in which several of the manuscript’s through lines (mortality, mental illness, the quotidian domestic, the forest) take an explicit hold. The poem’s content is tightly reigned into couplets, short(er) lines, and efficient language, thus furthering its role as a grounding place in a collection that otherwise contains wilder poems. As of now, it’s the first poem of the collection, before even the first section begins—an epigraph of sorts.