Ordinary Things. Poetry by Karen Petersen

Ordinary Things

What’s in a house left behind
but the tenacity of objects:
a torn bedspread
put away like an admonition,
a post card from Paris
behind the dresser,
the dried beetle on the windowsill.

These things speak softly,
not like the robin’s relentless warbling,
leaves on a steep bank
–a cascade of gold coins,
or the gilt-winged dragonfly
skittering across the clotted mud:
the other side of a dusty window.

Past, present, future,
in doing the mundane tasks of daily life
we discover its deepest secrets.
The wisteria cracked the door frame,
and all I know of yearnings
and the weight of the world
comes in like sunlight through the glass. 

Where, Indeed

I’m living in a place
where the local radio station
breaks my heart every time.
I turn it on to find myself aching
in front of the red stop light,
surrounded by too many cars,
and after the light goes green,
I wonder, where should I go?
The clouds here are deceptive
seemingly infinite at times
but here comes the rain
and the sky lies over me darkly.

I feel like it’s a massive lid
that if I could push up against it
blue will appear. It is a somber day
but the clouds are not only oppressive
in the distance they are fluffy, teasing,
and the blue sky shines through
like some kind of hope.
Hope, my pacifier. Making me hungry.
I will go buy some groceries.

Outside the supermarket
in the empty florescent parking lot 
the tall middle-aged clerk
in his preppy jacket and loafers
is busy gathering all the discarded carts
into one long line that snakes its way
towards the automatic front doors.
It’s rumored he went to Yale,
cracked under the strain, 
and has been at this supermarket
for over thirty years now; 
it’s a simple life, no demands. 

The cashier inside by the soggy plants asks me,
“Have you seen any hummingbirds yet?”
And I think of those bright little birds, 
wings beating 80 times a second 
in order to stay alive.
And then I realize, I know that feeling,
I know that hummingbird,
with its fierce beating heart
bursting with love of the world
into the heaviness of early Spring.

Karen Petersen is due to be a judge of Poetry Out Loud in 2020

About the contributor

Related Articles

A Girls and Other Poems- Anne Bevan

A Girl There was a girl Who lived in a glass mind And carried her emotions From room to room In a brown suitcase. Blackbirds pecked at her Through see-through walls, Hissing...

Declutter Time by Anne Ballard

DECLUTTER TIME Well-intentioned magazines still in the plastic Status-declaring books, unread or struggled through once Yellowed old-friend-paperbacks  Recipes – what’s the Internet...

Dick Jones- New Poetry

BERTRAGHBOY BAY Where the ironstone wall gathers fuscia and salt; where the swifts stitch blue air to the scrub-grass; where herring gulls mob the heron; where cormorants hang wings on the...

More Like This

Five New Poems by Matt Duggan

The Citadel Metal spikes made from blue glass and silver are unhooked – pierced inside shop entrances when closed like dystopian fly- traps laid out to deter...

Rachael Mead, Poet.

Rachael Mead's poetry is informed by her relationship with her environment.

Amphibian and other poems- Cheryl Caesar

Amphibian Post-MS, my legs are clumsy, half-numb. Dumb to earth’s unevenness, I stumble to the shore. Half-in the water is hardest. Currents pull,...

The Burden of My Star

Alina Stefanescu was a finalist for the 2019 Kurt Brown AWP Prize,

5 poems by Beth McDonough

Beth McDonough's work is strongly connected to place, particularly to the Tay, where she swims, and forages nearby.