Blinders

Tina Kelley

New Year's Day, Winthrop, Washington


    Kak fstretish, tak i provedyosh.�Russian proverb

In one of its truer announcements,
The narrator�s voice in my head said:
This is me.

Here in the dry sunny winter valley, skiing on a perfect trail,
I felt a bolt slip into place, a puzzle piece, a center.

This wide valley, five hours from the city,
this valley of houses miles apart in the rolling scrub,
is the tap of the conductor�s baton on the music stand,
the smell of a new piece of paper,
starched laundry on the line,
the sound of a soda can opening,
a bite of iceberg lettuce, but only if one thinks of iceberg lettuce
as crisp and white and wet and clean.

Each square foot of snow has shining facets in seven colors, a windfall.
It didn�t have to be this way. Snowflakes could�ve been dull, or each flake
could glow like a pearl. Diamonds of light are a gift. Long needles
of white pines suck up the sun from above and below.

In the cabin is a Russian climber who wakes us with hot coffee delivered to each sleeping bag,
and his own classical guitar music. Also here, a strong, strong woman, my friend,
who had a feral upbringing in Alaska, now expecting her first child. She naps through the banter,
a tiny creature nested inside her, in a deeper sleep, in a warm cabin in a freezing valley.
Her husband plays the flute, his friend makes two tater pies, dessert and breakfast.
Oleg, the Russian, told us at midnight,
Kak fstretish, tak i provedyosh,
How you meet the year is how you spend the year.

How lucky if that means with friends, the lovely world, and the narrator
speaking clearly of who I am, and where.



Trains Running After Storms


    headline, The New York Times

I had to commit flight.
I had seen too many birds escaping, flying
off to the sides, as if I were evil. In the east the rumbling
called to me, kept ahead of me, vanished.
I rose and laughed.

It is all far more complex than we had imagined:
the sky, the flat land, the fields. There is more so of everything,
like daybreak in a house you know first at night.

In one car, everyone had the same name,
all the Yolanda Schmidts on the planet at once.

�Be confident,� the other trains told me. �Rise wildly.�

I saw falling stars all day behind the sunlight.

Yolanda, age 9, wanted to know what Never Mind really means.

The fields around Spokane look like lily pads,
green circles around the irrigation systems.

The last train followed the last engine, like the flung-back droop
of columbine sepals, triumphant. We were magnificent.

�We�re in the castle of the angels!� the five-year-old Yolanda hollered.

You know the look of the small plane flying beneath the big plane,
that sliding lack of control?

Perhaps this is a forever night stand, the 37-year-old Yolanda thought,
pondering what had happened very early this morning.

Have you ever seen a bee land on a bud
and both fall fast to the ground?

When we landed, there was a tunnel in the moon.



Watching My Father Watch His Widow


Remember how powerless we were in our dreams,
seeing the baby fall but unable to catch her,
trying to cry out but muted, merely groaning?
It is fifty times more frustrating now.

I saw you struggle to move the truck seat forward,
child bride, a foot and a half shorter. I saw you
flush the nitroglycerin pills, silently cursing
my constant need of them, and their failure.

Gad, when do you need a good man more than now,
with your shooting leg pains, arthritis of the spine,
dizziness, tiny parcels of sleep if the ledger's off?
Damned old age: rallentando, without the glory.

Sweetheart, don't fret so, that you missed my last words.
I've forgotten them. But I still have that blood-deep need
to help you up from the low chair, pour you a drink,
make you laugh. Husbands are wasted on the young.






Tina Kelley

TINA KELLEY�s second collection of poetry, Precise, was published in 2013 by Word Press, which also published her first collection, The Gospel of Galore, winner of a Washington State Book Award. She co-authored Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, (2012) a national bestseller about homeless young people, and was a reporter at The New York Times for ten years, sharing in a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service Journalism. Her writing has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2009, Audubon, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Orion, People, Poetry Northwest, Poetry East, Southwest Review, and Prairie Schooner, and on the buses of Seattle, Washington. She won the 2014 New Jersey Poets Prize and lives in Maplewood, NJ with her husband and two children.





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