Five Poems by Kathleen Norris

  Sacred Circles

Held tight and small and private for so long, forever

Now she presses against the flat, wide sides of memory.

Emerging from her past, unfolding into this presence

She has become aware of beauty, has begun to uncurl pain.


She has finished with the darkest corners, polished inside edges

Smooth with fingertips and toes, memorized each joining.

She has explored the tightness of each seam, tested every line,

Hoping for weakness, a chance to drive a wedge into some light.


Careful as she shifts to stretch, she has found how she can grow.

She will not force one side before another.

She knows one crack alone, like broken bone

Will heal itself more strongly, give the falsest hope.


As coal to diamond, sand to pearl, with time and pressure

She patiently transforms, prepares for trusting love.




The spread of a root, the reach of one slick

Green whisker splits the earth. This illusion

Of solid ground we bury in, build on,

Yields to the nudge of bubbling spring water.


Rivers flow beneath us, carrying strength,

Pooling, swelling, emerging finally

Clearing the muck of this birth, spilling free.

Beauty, like water, finds the way to light.


Turning cold bury box to fertile womb,

Alone, she needs no illumination

No other, no germ of life from without.

She is the source of earth splitting beauty.


The moon casts my shadow; I trip on a root.

Rivers flow beneath me. I cling to the earth.




This is not a place for play

No backyard fort or hideaway

From imagined pirates and real bad guys

No place for dressing in disguise.


This is no place for playing wife

For trying on some other life

With borrowed clothes and shoes and hats

Not the place for secret chats.


Look for no thin crank to turn

No switch to flip no code to learn

No locks nor snaps nor hinges hid

No special trick gives way the lid.


Touch with care the sharp cut wood

The shadows deep, the edges good.


Seed Sowers

Hunger drives you from your stale room

Sends you aching for one sweet taste

Sends you seeking the earth’s cold fruit;

You search for tubers, bulbs, to roast.


You feel your way through darkened halls

To come upon the roots upturned.

You weigh the best with both your hands;

You’ve found the flesh for which you yearned.


Peel away just this bulb’s white skin

Let thin strips catch beneath your nails.

Avoid bright flesh which lies exposed

Or suffer burns your tears won’t heal.


Beneath all weather, safe from worm

I wait here silent, crated, firm.


Fertile Ground

Bury me just a thigh’s depth down

In your closest soil

Or toss me off and walk away

My gravity will pull the ground around.


This shell, this wooden skin

Wherein I wait for earth’s dark wrap

Holds my calm and beauty

Unimaginable to you, my sin.


Dry earth will work to crack my cell

Will penetrate its seams

Will mingle with my waters, make

The mud in which I’ll swell.


You were plucking flowers, pulling weeds.

You paid nothing for scattering seeds.

  Copyright © 2008 Kathleen Norris

Kathleen Norris received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She lived in Alaska for 17 years, both in Fairbanks and in the Eskimo village of St. Marys, and spent a year teaching in Japan before moving to New Hampshire in 1995. She enjoys traveling extensively but is settled in New Hampshire near the White Mountain National Forest. She finds a balance for her administrative work and teaching at Plymouth State University with her quiet life at home in the woods. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and worked in secondary education for 25 years before joining the College of Graduate Studies at PSU in 2002. She is working on a collection of her poetry and looks forward to further collaborations with visual artists.