Monday, January 4, 2016

Kelly Cherry

Kelly Cherry taught at the University of Wisconsin—Madison for more than 20 years. She is the author of several novels, story collections and nonfiction books. Her many poetry collections include: Natural Theology (1988), Death and Transfiguration (1997), and Hazard and Prospect: New and Selected Poems (2007). She served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2010 to 2012. She lives on a small farm in Virginia with her husband, the fiction writer Burke Davis III.

She is one of the poets to be included in an upcoming anthology of contemporary Christian poetry, which I am editing for the Poiema Poetry Series (Cascade Books), and which is slated to come out early in 2016. She recently told me she is working on a sequence of poems about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The following poem is included in Hazard and Prospect.

Virgin and Child

I’ll say that there are bits of gold
---------stuck in her hair, star-bits, brilliant
------------------blue slivers at the edge of the painting
that seem to dance in the light
---------from the fire.
------------------I’ll say there’s a fire even though there can’t be
and I’ll say the painting is as large as a room
---------and it can be. She moves in it
------------------as if it is a room,
the gold bits gleaming like candles
---------that consume nothing, not even themselves.
------------------The child crawls out of her arms
and onto the floor
---------and his plump wrists
------------------and knees
are like loaves of bread,
---------his mouth smells of milk,
------------------his palms are so tiny
there’s no room for even one nail hole.
---------She steps out of the frame,
------------------her hair sparkling
and the background to everything lapis lazuli and glittering,
---------and when she calls to him, clapping
------------------and laughing,
he hurtles toward her,
---------on all fours of course,
------------------and she catches him up
and swings him over her head,
---------and her hair with the stars pinned in it
------------------and the dancing blue background
slip backward into space
---------and it is the child’s face
------------------risen now, looking down,
into her face,
---------mother and son
------------------meeting each other’s eyes
as we look on.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.