Poetry from Kierstin Bridger

Photo by Aaron Burden


For Robby

On this paper sky morning my eyes burn
as I watch an unkindness pull entrails
from something brindled and dead.

It’s not always clear at what angle the land
is stitched, all the ways we tally rebirth
or how images of you arrive without warning.

Sometimes it’s the river seam;
snowmelt alive under sugar-thin frost,
April surging through black water.

In photographs shot from overhead
it appears abstract: heart-breaking patterns
scrolled by false starts, soft melt and hard rime.

Near the center it looks like cardiac arrest,
further on an open wound but here,
around this bend, the sweet hand of spring,

needles of silver cold thread with cross current.
Alone on this quiet bank I try to conjure you
the fisherman, the cowboy, my Colorado kin.

It’s as if I can hear a stage whisper:
jagged is the path smoothed on occasion
to deliver the distinction. This river, my sage.

If we had slung even a shoddy bridge I’d ask—
are any of your days smooth? Is there a line,
a difference between highs and nods or are your days

all rapids and patches after puncture? I know the tug,
I do, the dark seduction of escape.
If you could only come back, stand here, I’d say, reach in,

awaken yourself while you still can, taste the iron tang
of fresh water, the scent of scales, the wet granite—
watch as the raven retreats, shifts into white.



Kierstin Bridger is a Colorado writer and author of Demimonde (Lithic Press 2016) and All Ember (Urban Farmhouse Press). Winner of the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, the 2015 ACC Writer’s Studio award, an Anne LaBastille Poetry residency and short-listed for the Manchester Poetry Competition in the UK, Bridger is editor of Ridgway Alley Poems and Co-Director of Open Bard Poetry Series. Find her current and upcoming work in Prairie Schooner, December, Contrary, Hawaii Review and Painted Bride Quarterly. She earned her MFA at Pacific University. Kierstinbridger.com

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