Every Small Death

by Kathryn Kirkpatrick

Midwinter the daylilies crown.
Moss phlox opens lavender spokes.
Months early, daffodils spike.
Peonies risk their ruby wrists

as the confounded seasons
fool everything not wary
of the still-measured light.
A young man behind the counter

in town says it feels like the end
of the world, and I nod, me
with the unwelcome bloom in my breast.
It is winter, so dormant, so die

I say to the chaos of green
on my hill, to my body’s unruly
cells. We will stand it, both of us,
the mountain and me.

We will relearn every small death.

KATHRYN KIRKPATRICK teaches poetry, Irish studies, and environmental literature at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. She is the author of three poetry collections, The Body’s Horizon (1996), Beyond Reason (2004), and Out of the Garden (2007).