Tag Archives: Patricia Karamesines

Mill in Southern Idaho, by Patricia Karamesines

Skulls and other crumbling caves invite
Smaller things to enter them. So this mill,
Detail jumbling as its carpentry unlaced,
Called me down to its hollow, where irrigation
Swilled in a greener-than-grass surface algae,
Emerald, tepid, moating around the swayback
Structure tossed up by waves of receded grain.
Blue damselflies, thin as flower petals,
Coupled in a fringe around the pool.
Beyond that water the pestle sun had ground
All grass to a fine powder.  The mill itself
Was graying, ripples of fallen wood dropped
Like flesh sloughing to reveal the few bones.
It had a roomless feel to it, filled with its own
Decline, but inside, northwestern light divided
From the dark. Wood thinned until it became
Part of the air.  The floor softened and rotted
From pigeon droppings. Here, there, rusted, stiffened
Machinery.  A mill, a honeycomb of angled
Chutes, evaporating wood and light, dry
Rooms.  In one chamber, a box, hinged
And built into the wall, nested the remains
Of pigeons straightening wings into bone,
Their eyes looking into dust.  No miller
Nor sign of any, no tools gleaming with body
Oils, no salt-bleached bandannas, no preserved jars –
Only from the rafters hung the long and sunken
Paper-dead flesh of a drying snake,
Teeth curved back like fingers to its open
Throat, its eyes, the thin shininess of wheat chaff.

Standing in the matterless door,
I saw the fluvial swell of some wild summer
Weed bent with waterless ripeness, yolk
And blush, like a peach, but rolling, fleshless gold.

Also, today is Wilderness Interface Zone’s birthday

I almost forgot!  Today, WIZ turns one.  Happy Birthday to us! I’ve been preoccupied and haven’t come up with any fun thing to do in celebration, but I would like to run out a line of thanks yous.

Thanks–deep, ever-flowing thanks–to Wm Morris, for helping me open this space and for providing solid support.

Thanks, WIZ readers, for taking time out of your no doubt very busy schedules to while away moments here.  Writing without audience is, if not dead, not as alive as it might be.

Thanks to contributors who have submitted work and helped establish literary bio-diversity for the site.  You have no idea how good it has been to meet you (in an Internet way) and work with you.

Thanks to my family for enduring my distraction with this project, and especially thanks to my son Saul for his tech support and other vital forms of participation.

My hope is that, over the next year, I’ll be able to take WIZ to another level, one that will make more worthwhile everyone’s interest, faith, and participation.   The literary nature and science writing field is burgeoning, including among LDS.  I fully intend to find a way to gather its flowers while I may.

The Happen Stance

Saturday night, my husband and I made a last minute run to the only grocery store within 22 miles before it closed at 9 p.m.  On the return trip, I drove with the SUV’s highbeams on, because we live on a country road whereon we’re likely to come across animals on the pavement, everything from cats, rabbits, deer, mice and coyotes (toads in the summertime) to neighbors’ loose horses and cattle.

As we arced along a curve, the vehicle’s lights splashed against something moving on the road.  A small cottontail had emerged from cover, probably looking for something to eat where the unusually heavy and long-lingering snow had melted back from the asphalt’s edges.  Seeing and hearing the truck, the rabbit bolted unsteadily toward us.  I hit the brakes.  “A bunny,” I said.  As our vehicle slowed to a stop, we saw another flash in the headlights, high up in the air to our right.  A great horned owl dropped out of the darkness into the swath of our lights, swinging its talons toward the rabbit, working its wings to correct its trajectory.  “Whoa!” we said, surprised by the sudden drama. Continue reading The Happen Stance

Closing Time

(for my father)

Late afternoon came floating down the creek.
The Appalachia air chilled gradually;
Ringlets formed round shivers on a pool
Where mayflies burst its skin, and theirs, some trailing
Papery shells behind them in their flight.
Brown trout missiled the sylphs, arched and slapped
The surface, falling back, while I cast toward
The trembling pool, slowly wound my line in,
Looked up. He was wading toward the nearest bank
Where lilies thrust their speckled heads through mad
Tangles of grass trailing the current.  I followed,
Breaking the silver ripples of his wake.
“Let’s take the path.  We’ll cross again above,”
He said.  I understood just where, and so
We clattered on the gravel with empty creels.
In an abandoned orchard, adolescent
Apples swelled, stone green, not yet much burden
On their boughs. We plucked wild blackberries
Dripping among thorns, filling our mouths
With fruit still warm from standing in the sun.
A stalk of goldenrod, its bud crown forming,
Jutted shoulders and head above the rest.
One of its leaves dipped lower.  There, beneath it,
A butterfly hung folded for the night.
“Watch this,” I said, and putting out my hand,
Which shook, I slipped a finger through its legs
And so became its leaf.  Its filaments
Shuffled for a hold upon my skin.
There it dangled, groggy-sensed, and free.
“The thing is holding me.”  I thought of all
The butterflies I had kept caged
Inside my hands, beating wild against
My skin, and I, wounded, sprung those finger
Bars at blows as soft as sleeper’s breath
To watch the insects stagger, fear-drunk, to the air.
Then, left looking at my dusted fingers,
I shamed my motives and hungered by that shame.
“Here, hold.”  He reached his work-etched hand.
The fumbling creature set its legs and clung,
Still, like dew.  The valley’s dusk grew deeper.
We hung the insect back upon its leaf.
“Come on,” he said.  “We’ve got to cross the creek.”
We crossed the creek, feeling our way through flowing
Shadows.  The mountain valley dimmed, shimmered,
Its watery cleft the velvet dark of forest
Face and leafy, long reflection, light
And scaly, tremulous as wings.

It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist

(for Saul)

My son, seven, says, in passing,
“To travel at the speed of light
You must become light.”
From the apparent blue, this bolt
Blasts me from terrain
Of rolling, languid thought,
I am forced to leap by precipice
And, after thrills of floundering,
Beat together wings of suspense
And impetus, igniting flight.

He is only seven, and it is my duty.
Breathless, I ask:
“Where did you hear such a thing?”
He tosses “I just know”
Over a shoulder, stoops
And is gone, uncaring
The grace he has done me.
For him, it is simple collection
From some garish bush, but for me—
They say accidents of real consequence
Happen among comforts of home.


First published in Irreantum 4.2 (Summer 2002): 80.

Judah, by Patricia Karamesines

These bargained years I’ve toiled in the fields
With you, tending, in my distraction, ample yields,
Though when the wind pressed down the grain
There was nothing, or when the sheep would flurry
And part as if a man were walking through,
Joseph, it was never you.
Plaited, golden stalks crowded down
And rose again in gusts,
Or caravans in moving dreams of dust
Dissolved into white plains.
While in the upper orchards,
On a terrace with the stripling fruits,
Driving away wiry goats
Whose wild lips strayed too near the tender shoots,
Against yellow crop and sliding green,
Stripes of soil, pale dust, and the woad sky,
I thought I saw your garment—you bearing it—
Your breast goat’s blood red, your eyes
Turned from me.
I shouted: The land shifted
In some slight breeze, the goats lifted
Their nobbed heads. Continue reading Judah, by Patricia Karamesines

The Pear Tree by P. G. Karamesines

Listen to Patricia reading “The Pear Tree.”

When early autumn’s storm wrung from the clouds
Summer, wearing the last thundering rain thin
And sharp on the wind’s rasp; when thorns
Of the first frost bloomed over the grass,
And the morning glory hung brown and bitten
On the garden fence; on those first nights
Of cold window glass and the drip of chill
Onto the plank, when I wrapped in the blanket
And the dog curled at my feet, I heard,
Above the clay clink of wind-churned chimes,
Above the wag of the unlatched screen door,
Round blows of fruit fall against the ground.

I have been here three years’ windfall
Not hearing the bump of pears, but when the tree
Burst blossoms against the window, I watched
Crawl across the floor shadow from thousands
Of swaying cups lifted into the storm of pollens,
And when after petals leaves screwed from the nodes,
I looked out into green overcast: fruit had pushed
Off flower and bent down boughs as with old age,
But more mystic that blunt drop of fruit earthward
That jerked my ear like a new word.

Someone else should hear it: I could better tell
How, when the wind rattled its sticks upon the houses,
I heard a pear fall to a bruising; how it struck
Above the rip of water from passing cars’ tires;
How, as I let slip with sleep my garment of senses,
A tree caught the last thread and plucked it
With a ripe pear; and how I lay awake beneath rainy
Leaves or sat for spells by the window, as one haunts
Heaven those nights her globes bear down the branch
For a single star to fall away in flame.


“The Pear Tree” was the winner of the 1987 BYU Eisteddfod Crown Competition for a lyric poem.  It was published in Irreantum 4.2 (2006): 99.

Evening drive

by P. G. Karamesines

Mountains and evening: aspen leaves
Pale as moth wings,
Reclaiming the wood.
The car clove spring.
A flock of yellow petals, heads hung—
I wanted to stop,
But seeing you, said nothing.
You were not much in your face,
Your words, better remembering
Some breathtaken childhood
On this exalted road.
On the peaks, winds blew
Clouds to dust
In parching cold.
We rode through green flush below,
Windows pleasantly rolled down.

With dusk, winter came a little down.
On the road above the gorge
I sat in the window.
Raindrops broke across my face,
Burned off in the wind.
You turned the wheel
As if you held the reins
Of a mare, a bold girl
Standing on the saddle.
Beside us like a hound
The river ran panting.

The last brightness came down
Cascades branching like ivy.
Your mountains, losing
Their faces like sleepers,
Slumped out of the light.
The car went always
Toward the edge of that small clearing
The headlights cut.
Inside, your face,
Your chest, glowing faintly
From dashlights
As if you stood in a room
With a fire.

When I came in at last,
Breezes still running
Over my skin,
My hair cool as grass,
I had no warm words.
You had no cold,
So we sat like two birds
On the same wire.
I thought,
Language is an odd thing:
We can get no further
Than what we have words for.


First published in Irreantum: A Review of Mormon Literature and Film;  Volume 8,  Number 1 (2006), pp. 100-101