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kimberly ann southwick / two poems

Prenatal Yoga In The Heated Pool

for Geoff, February and March 2020

my husband knows a bird for its call,

a tree for its leaves & grain & fruit,

a flower for its fold & shape, the color

of its petals. in February, Acadiana

is a sometimes warm breeze, a squirrel

chasing nothing through the maze of cypress,

a small snail I lift from water that dies overnight

on the cement, the thin branches’ reflection

of a tree I can’t name on the surface that ripples

to turn stick to snake, my bloated belly

waxing & waning below the surface— gravid

then thin again with a hiccup to remind. my husband

knows citrus for how well it fits in the palm of his hand,

its color & texture, the tang of its taste on his tongue:

sweet orange, grapefruit, kumquat, blood orange.

the birds chatter throughout the gray day,

a conversation I can’t parse. a bigger bird passes overhead.

I wish he were here & not at work, my daughter’s father,

to teach us:

sparrow, hawk, dove—

maple, oak, palm.


The Banana Trees Will Grow Back But Are They Each Still The Same Tree?

everyone knows the phoenix, upon rebirth, 

is the same phoenix. every mother

wants a better life for her children, but what if

we are recreating the silver of our lives

at the expense of gold—what if we plateau?

the kombucha starter feeds on sugar & time,

doubling itself. ram-girl, metal rat, are you

me done over, are you poet or painter—

carpenter, beekeeper, librarian? are you

summer’s golden eye, warmth of sky,

a spoonful of rice, quiet in the swing because

this is an elegy to who I was, not to who you

will never become. I want to tell you a cliché

& want it to be true. I want to tell you 

you can be anything you want to be, but

we can’t even leave the house right now,

aren’t safe pulling apples 

from baskets at the grocery store.

every year, the banana trees

regenerate, spit pink flowers

towards heaven, shedding

dead brown leaves winter killed.

every year, each child of

the future grows an extra finger,

an additional toe & we will not

be able to keep up with naming

each new appendage, so

we’ll start naming them

for the runaway stars, the ones hurtling

so fast through the galaxy

they don’t keep their place

in the interstellar medium:

Aurigae, Arietis, Columbae.

this little piggy flew far far away &

all the way home again. do we really

want something better for them? or

do we want the piggy to stay home

because nothing better is out there,

we are so selfish to say—do we

want the piggy to come back

because there is nothing better, nothing safer

than here, but not only for the right now?

hello chair, hello cup, hello radio,

hello. this is an elegy for growing up,

for the banana trees,

for the phoenix—how can it really

be the same after living as ash,

after so many times bursting

into glorious flame.


Kimberly Ann Southwick is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and English at Jacksonville State University. Her debut full-length poetry collection, ORCHID ALPHA, is out via Trembling Pillow Press as of April 2023. Kimberly is the founder and Editor in Chief of the literary-arts journal GIGANTIC SEQUINS. Find her on twitter @kimannjosouth or visit for more.

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