Shades of grief lurk like oak
until they reach the heartwood —
the solid core, unpierced, the last to rot.
Or the first — leaving a crust
of bark that crumbles under snow,
the lightest of flakes gathering
until weight cracks strength’s mask.
Overhead, a hawk wheels, glides —
thermals winging her near the wood line.
Pond, scabbed with frogbit, wrinkles
as a gust slips through, sighs my face.
I rise with the hawk. Peer through her black eyes,
witness the shiver, the pulse.
Leap—before it flees.
The 2016 Blue Light Press Book Award winner, KB’s fourth collection The Perfume of Leaving was preceded by the 2013 Blue Light Press Book Award winner What Comes of Waiting. Published in many print and online journals, KB has two other collections of poetry, Fragments of Light (2009) and Gathering Stones (2008), published by Celtic Cat Publishing. Her work also appears in River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-first Century (2015), Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee(2013) and Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets (2011).
Ballentine received her MFA in Poetry from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. She currently teaches high school theatre and creative writing and adjuncts for two local colleges. Learn more about KB Ballentine at http://www.kbballentine.com.