Poetry: Two Poems by Kristen Holt-Browning
Through tonally complex and innovative language, deftness of line, and vivid, intimate imagery, Kisten Holt-Browning’s two poems push the reader into a liminal space between the familiar and the unknown: “Shifted… toward mysteries”—an essential work of poetry which aims to transform the reader and their relation to the world.
Drank the blood.
Did not clean the cup.
Left my homely little disease behind.
Shifted prayer toward mysteries—
carpet, couch, laundry.
Shaped bricks from fire. Built shrines
to dishwasher, duvet.
Bread sour on my tongue.
Crept over the boulder, alongside the river.
Caught then ate the cold
a new form. Narrative
By the time the horses arrived, clacking
beware, beware outside the church,
I was already stained,
turned to glass.
It’s raining again and we are furious for snow, staring out windows, longing to witness poor animals in the woods beyond the yard, and imagine ourselves paw-cold and snout-lost. The fact is it troubles me, although I joke about it, how quickly I would end out there: a starving, unwashed day or two, and I’d already be too tired to shelter myself, never mind dig a proper hole to lie in. Here, where windows lock firmly, the risk is that weather becomes an aesthetic accessory, snow a charming backdrop to a cup of tea. But there’s the half-eaten mole the cat brought home. He has a relationship to place that makes my guts lurch when he slinks toward the forest in his little lion bones. Also, the shaggy deer—I know I make them nauseous, the human smell of me repulsive in their noses. I may be silk-robed at the window, lavendered and saged, but I don’t forget the scars I wear, the borders where I tore to blood, exposing bone and babies. Not to imply that I’m wounded. I live in a fresh house unburdened by history. I have enough meat to survive. No blood. Only candlelight, which does a poor job of illuminating the forest, the broken animals in the dark.
Kristen Holt-Browning is a freelance editor and writer. Her poems, short stories, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Eastern Iowa Review, Juxtaprose, Necessary Fiction, and Tahoma Literary Review. She lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York State with her husband, two sons, two dogs, and two cats.