Thursday 23 March 2023

Four Prose Poems by Adele Kenny



Exactly Then


The “wolf hat” came from a church rummage sale—tattered and ratty—  not real fur, but the colour reminded me of wolf pictures I saved from an old Geographic. I must have been seven or eight with just enough change in my pocket.

Back then, across the street from our house, were acres of woods—a forbidden place where my mother said creatures prowled and demons fed on children and fear. But years before I learned how to be afraid, the distant mystery of that forest called to me, and I went to its wildness when everyone else was asleep.

One night, curled into a pile of fallen leaves—“wolf hat” on—I pretended (without purpose or understanding) that I was a wolf. As I moved deeply into the trees’ silence, nothing was real but that moment (nothing before or after—no thought to consequence, how things unwind). There was only exactly then and a spirit fluent inside me. Under the stars’ stretched shining, it was as if I truly became something other. Moonlight blew through me, became the wind, and (softly) began to howl.



When the Last Wisp of Magic Is Gone


As if the columned clouds would change anything beneath the sky—ritual and romance, detachment. He pretends not to notice as the seasons change.

She looks over her shoulder and sees all the moons that have risen and set since then—a striped shirt frayed at the collar, blue jeans worn at the knees. Out of the two-dimensional day, a distant sun rings its yellow bell; birds that nested in her pockets disappear into winter’s blanched monotony—bare trees begin to show their bones.

She looks down the staircase ahead and translates distance. There are feathers on the steps, and only words (after licking their lips) are making love.


Even If You Could Explain It Completely


The backstory doesn’t matter—this is about what happens now. You open your eyes, move your legs slowly, flex and bend, stretch (aligned to the air). Your puppy looks up at you and wags his tail—he wants to go out. You open the back door and he runs through, happy to sniff the parsley, squat and pee, follow an ant with his nose—the wick of his small body fired with visible joy.

When it happens (really happens), it’s not complicated. First, what you really want—the surprise of it. Even if you could explain it completely, you wouldn’t. Day becomes day, and night—their passing nothing to do with time. All notion of distance disappears—what feels like entering. Suddenly (like walking into a light you know), you discover this: the certainty that nothing is certain, the deep relief of your own incredible smallness.



What to Expect of Heaven



At least some sense of matter and rust—eyes that remember who you were, hands that know how light feels—the old house, there, in a space between clouds (your father on the porch and your mother)—your dogs (all of them)—larkspur and birds (the plain brown ones, the cardinals)—a place to sit and listen in on those who are still alive, to remember what living was like—a place to dream of breathing. 


Adele Kenny is author of 25 books and chapbooks. Her poems, reviews, and articles have been published in journals, books, and anthologies in the U.S. and abroad. Among other awards, she has received poetry fellowships from the NJ State Arts Council, first prize in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, and Kean University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Her book A Lightness was a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. She is founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series (1998-present) and has been poetry editor of Tiferet since 2006. She has read in the U.S., England, Ireland, and France, and has twice been a Geraldine R. Dodge Festival poet.

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