Fall/Winter 2020Poetry

Poems by Leah Claire Kaminski


my mother recalls the jacaranda at Cocoplum about which
my brother wrote a poem                       both not here

            but the tree is still filling our corners
                           his letters hold branches up


in Miami they were fewer         bloomed for a week

minor prelude to slow drives in August           Subaru hatchback
tanking over blue king crabs crunched            to white meat

            after shuttling out through mangroves             & plaster
crumble                        through what was left


they bloom for a month or more here             purple kerchiefs
               I sweep the patio 3 times a day at the peak                     waxy
sap          dark drips on concrete


            on warm days they dry quickly and I sweep them in purple
piles                     they buoy me               I do not let them go
the air filled with purple chiffon           bees
nose into them                roll over           hummingbirds try at them
sharp at their softening jowls


but this morning          my parents gone           the purple’s fiction
               the cool wind sly
from somewhere else               like here           but where

things stay themselves             the crabwalk’s slow thinning
Christo’s pink-sheathed islands in Biscayne bay           shredding still

and now it’s over         and I’m less                though the jacarandas
blow down the same


they cut it down           the jacaranda

                        now a blank
sunspot crowded by concrete

                        I arrange bark amulets flowers twigs                little

I learn about you on the prairie

things about to live
are close, and hard, like flame
beaten to armor

shields sheathing
pussywillow’s white
clenched dense

another limb stark
red as manzanita.
a dun-brown one that
bows out as it grows

scaled with buds then
draws hands together to pray,
drive them upward

I can imagine birds there, in that thicket.
at first I can’t see you there at all

you in my future arms soft and plump, fragile

but now, but now this is your early spring
this is your still-winter:

you are flexed cells forcing out
you are crusted with fur and wax
you engage my body
breathe water, my blood

bud closed and feeding
I can’t see you and you
are blind and taxing


Leah Claire Kaminski‘s poems appear in journals such as Bennington Review, Fence, Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Vinyl. Dancing Girl Press published her chapbook Peninsular Scar. Some of her recent honors include Grand Prize in the Summer Literary Seminars Fiction & Poetry Contest and in the Matrix Magazine LitPOP awards judged by Eileen Myles. She lives in Chicago with her husband and child. Find more of her work at www.leahkaminski.com and follow her on Twitter at @leahkaminski.

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