by Keetje Kuipers
Sometimes, when they disappear,
men take a jelly jar of whiskey
with them, and in late summer,
when the river shrinks back
from its skin like a child ashamed
of undressing, the jars surface,
full of sand and crumpled snail shell,
in its seams. The daughters collect them,
and we fill each one—with milk, silver
buttons, crimson leaves losing color—
though never with whiskey. We’re
not trying to bring the fathers back.
by Keetje Kuipers
Like most places on the map,
we didn’t notice it until we were there,
seeing water before it could be seen,
the gathered cottonwoods and willows
telling us everything about the twisted
searchings of buried roots,
thirst, being moored
just at the edge of what you need.
I don’t remember parking the car
or letting the dog off his lead—
we were so ready for good fortune.
The night before, paper roses fading
on the motel walls as we slept,
I’d dreamt your hands sifting over me
like dun-colored fish in a lake
of their own choosing. But in daylight
we couldn’t find the water, each trunk
carrying the muddied mark of it
right at the height of your shoulder, the place
I lean when I want you to look at me:
bottle caps, shotgun shells, every shade
of broken glass scattered between the downed
trees, a sort of quickening of light
among their limbs.
You fingered the pieces, dust hovering the heat
like mist or a glitter of fine
insects. That dirt road we’d taken
for no reason, the green slick and sheen
of alfalfa fields beneath irrigation pipes,
water pumped from a reservoir going dry—
I wanted to remind you I was there, but not
for always. We heard children, their voices tinkling
like coins fallen down the airless chute
of a slot machine, Over here! Over here!
I don’t know what they saw, though we heard
their splashing, mistook it for our own.
by Keetje Kuipers
I’ve just slipped past those guards of sleep
who tonight are more like Swedish policemen—
well-meaning but complacent—just as happy
to let me go on my way as detain me here
in this land of the conscious, when you begin
your rhapsodic mantra of barking at the door.
For this I would like to punish you or at least
give a gentle reminder that unlike you, I
haven’t been napping most of the day.
Instead, we are released into air so cold
it works like quicksand on my lungs,
sucking the oxygen from itself as I watch
you canter to the nearest snow drift in your
coat of shimmering black velvet.
With ice cuffs around your ankles,
you look dressed for a midnight ball.
We’re three days away from the longest
night of the year and if I wish for anything
as I count the trunks of the pines you’ve
disappeared into, it’s that heaven, too—
if there is a place we go after this—
will have such a similarly deep and inescapable
darkness for you to root among and for me
to marvel at while I wait for your return.
Keetje Kuipers has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio
Center, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Oregon Literary
Arts, and SoapStone. She was the recipient of the 2007 Margery
Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, as well as a winner of
the 2007 Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry. Her poems
are currently published or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, West
Branch, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Willow Springs, among others.
You can hear her read her work at the online audio archive From the
Fishouse (www.fishousepoems.org). She lives in Missoula, Montana,
with her dog, Bishop.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 3, Number 2
Copyright © 2008
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors
At Stanfield Reservoir and
Taking the dog out at 2 am