Four Poems by Katherine Anderson Howell

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Morning Class in Washington, D.C.

A sparrow collides, falls
glass to concrete

Beak opens, body spasms.

A student looks:
me, bird, back.

She wants instructions.

Touch the bird
to do what?

Stun it back into life?

Set it upright, so instinct
will hop it away?

We exhale, watch

tail feathers, black, brown,
trimmed in white, stutter, relax.

Look another second for a light,

a lifting, an indication that
something is gone.

She stares, harmed by silence.

I open the door,
motion her through.

Fourth of July, Petworth

Green sparks buzz,
screech through the cedar,
the intersection ablaze
with spinning wheels.
The crepe myrtle hides
the flames of bottle rockets.

Boys, exhausted, sleep.
We drink wine
on the porch, jump
as the neighbors set off
booms; laugh at the lull
when the police cruise by.

Mortars echo like cannon
fire, sounds of joy and revolution
and war. And for a second,
we are scared,
like the baby
who will wake
every two hours,
cry at the sound
of closed doors
for two days.

Two stray embers
separated from a peony’s
crackle, float
orphaned through the smoking
sky, refusing to burn out.

Mary Cassatt Plays Cards

Hands on knees, she leans
forward, bends elbows.
Clever hint of smile.
That black dress.
No time for your
nonsense, shows her
hand, twists the cards
as her thumbs touch.
You still won’t win. Visibility is
concealment. You can’t
destroy what is completely
seen. She knows, cuts
her eyes to the side.
Her life spent painting
relegated to a contemporary of Degas.
Look at how she played that one:
center of the gallery.
Draw in around her,
learn her name, sense her face,
know the artist you thought
mattered loved her. She’s beaten you
by showing everything.

Katherine Anderson Howell writes and parents in Washington, D.C. She is a licensed esthetician, independent scholar, 2020 Best of the Net nominee, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work can be found in places as varied as Whale Road Review, Misfit Magazine, and Burnt Pine, among others.


Image by Antonio Manfredonio, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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