Monday, May 30, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Kathryn Hunt

The Undiscovered Country

When it came to the end
she would not eat any longer
refusing to take part
in the feast that makes us whole

In the vastness of her being
the broken pieces
like a thought or a rowboat

And the bitterness and love
that bound her to the earth
unsettled from her bones

She became smaller still
almost transparent

While outside the window
the moon rose through bare branches
in the blue ravenous light

--Kathryn Hunt
Originally appeared in Pontoon.


I am continually enchanted with the ways that poetry quietly slips into our everyday lives and has the ability to make a profound impact on an otherwise ordinary day. I chose this poem for exactly that reason:

Some years ago, I was part-owner in a small bakery/cafe; and on a quiet drizzly winter afternoon, one of our regular customers came in for lunch a little past the rush, the place momentarily deserted. He had brought his elderly mother in for a sandwich -- said he wanted to show her his favorite quirky lunch place.

We had on the counter a small collection of Floating Bridge Press poetry books for sale, and he picked up a copy of the anthology Pontoon. Amid the low hum (and luring scents) of the convection ovens (chocolate chip walnut cookies? Oatmeal raisin? Strawberry white chocolate scones?) he opened the slim volume and read aloud to his mother the poem I've posted above.

Nothing paused in the day -- cars roared past in four lanes on Airport Way, jets from Boeing Field barely skimmed the building tops; there was the clank and clang of pots being scrubbed and set to dry. But I could still hear him read -- every word -- and I could see his mother, in her diminished eighty+ self, absorb all of it.

This was one of those moments where the universe stops, takes a breath, and allows poetry to enter the soul.

A moment when poetry blesses us, and sends us on our way.


This week I have the good fortune to be editor of the masthead Tuesday Poem blog, and have posted an additional poem of Kathryn's, along with a video of her reading it. Please do visit!


  1. What a stunning poem, T. And your wonderfully quiet and utterly moving reminiscence of the cafe, the elderly man and his mother, and the way poetry does enter the soul, by the side door but for a moment completely filling the room. Thank you for this poem and your memory of it. xo

  2. Your telling of this story and re-telling of a poem has made my day. Thank you for this late-night bit of beauty. Thank you.

  3. Melissa, yes, that's it exactly. Thanks for stopping by. xo

  4. Elizabeth -- Poetry = Magic.

    Pure and simple.


  5. A 'late night bit of beauty' said Elizabeth - yes. Thanks, T - really pleased to be introduced to Kathryn's work here and on the TP hub. L, C x

  6. "A moment when poetry blesses us, and sends us on our way." Exactly! You've put into words the feelings I often receive after reading a satisfying poem -- a blessing, a confirmation, an acknowledgment of reality.

    I'll roll on over to Tuesday Poem....more blessings await.

  7. Oh, T.--

    Thank you so much for this.

  8. Yes, a blessing, T. Thank you. Your description of the man reading this poem to his mother and her sitting and absorbing it brought tears to my eyes. The whittling away of the mother - the dissolving really, the loss of hunger (for food, for life) contrasting with the 'ravenous' sky/world is brilliant, brilliant and utterly right. The poems you've posted - one about a father and another about a mother - are extraordinary together. I love them, pure and simple.

  9. - funny, I just checked, it's the light that's ravenous...

  10. Thank you for the introduction to a new poet and for the story you've wrapped around the poem. My experience of the last many months has included, yes, poetry's blessing, but I also know it to be capable of grabbing our lapels, if we have them, and kissing us on the mouth, after which it runs, laughing, to a waiting car. We are never the same again. xo