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 kimberlyannsouthwick.com for more.