kathleen peirce

What can the body do but enter
and be entered, if not by the mouth
of love, by words from mouths that made
love possible, or by the memory of words.
If the flesh is hushed, memory ravishes,
stands under loss, stupefied by understanding,
marries absence to desire, both being outside of time,
and makes a riddle of similitude.

Kathleen Peirce, from “Confession 9.10.25,” The Oval Hour: Poems (University of Iowa Press, 1999)

Kathleen Peirce on the Line

“The demand is to stay in the physical world as deeply as possible while opening the interior world farther than expected, and trusting language to be the most wild and most loyal companion. If the mind is wider than the sky, (and it is), the line can be (like a mind) larger than the space that contains it. I love that the making of lines signals edges both made and found, and that for all their possibilities in form, they move forward by breaking.”

–from An Ausable Reader

On birds in poems

There are tiny owls that call in the trees outside my bedroom window. Funny how for owls we say “call” and not “sing.” Tiny owls sing in the trees outside while I am in my bed, and they sound more like water or laughing being poured backward than heralds of wisdom or death. But I can’t see them in the dark, and I can’t see them in my head without the accompaniment of Robert Duncan’s dream owls from his 1987 poem, “Sentinels”. Here are the last seven lines:

The owls shiver down into the secrets of an earth
I began to see when I lookt into the hold I feard
and then saw others in the clump of grass.
I was dreaming and where I dreamt a light had gone out
and in that light they blind their sight and sit
sentinel upon the brooding of owl-thought, counselings
I remember ever mute and alive, hidden in all things.

My owls are not free from his because I find his image of them beautiful.

Kathleen Peirce. ‘Doing and Undoing our Heads: Some Thoughts on Birds in Poems’. Laurel Review 41.1.