Poems by Kathe Palka

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Future Wilderness

by Kathe Palka

From Canary Winter 2009-10

Kathe lives in the Raritan Basin on a small bluff overlooking the South Branch of the Raritan River, just west of the confluence, where she occasionally sees bald eagles.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall — Robert Frost


Above Califon, the timeless blue
of a crisp April morning gleams
on the pond at Mountain Farm.
Higher still along the rocky slope,
the trail enters the woods, then travels
down the edge of what my map names
Future Wilderness. I've come to find
this place where the future returns the past.
As the path parallels a farmer's fence,
ruined mounds snake among trees.
The old neighbors, good or otherwise,
are gone, and the cows too.
No one has made a friendly game
of wall-mending in eighty years.
Each freeze and thaw has had its way.
No pines or apples grow, but oaks,
sycamores, beech, maples
and the delicate white dogwoods
have crossed the fallen stones to take back
ground cleared long ago. The woods
are rich again in shadows, riotous
with birdsong and the scurry of animals—
deep in the mischief of spring.
Without our care to wall it out or in,
the land relives itself and the wild returns
from a time before our fathers
ever spoke of fences.

from The Grace of Light, Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices Series 2004

The Vanishing

by Kathe Palka

From Canary Spring 2010

"…light pollution causes us to lose sight
of our true place in the universe…"
—Verlyn Klinkenborg

The polar icecap together with its
bears, whole glaciers wasting away,
forests vanishing, so many species
told and untold, the glare
of our careless dominion
pales even the night’s darkness;
planets fade, Venus, Mars—
the full moon dims
above street lamps
as I wander lost in rooms
awash in ambient glow,
trying to reckon the dead
while counting my own
eerie vampire lights*
adding to the ungodly brightness
threatening now to snuff out
even the stars.

*vampire lights — the tiny lights that stay on even when electrical equipment is turned off

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