At My Daughter’s Riding Lesson (At My Daughter’s Riding Lesson) — High Country News — Know the West

A poem by Keetje Kuipers.

What was the name of this bar
where I kissed a blonde in a photo booth,

her husband just on the other side
oilcloth curtain? Or the street

where our apartment sat above the train, soot
staining the ceiling like a bad lung

we lived inside? The letters we wrote then—
not to like— but bright threads like birds

could tear down their dull nests with it. now rain
on the roof of the barn, swallow

after their long winter away, no more memory
only one season. Sometimes I feel like

for the kind of sadness inside which
no one could ever touch me. In the melting snow

puddles next to the barn where we found blood
accumulated on the surface like oil, a thing held

deep inside, never wanted to be brought up.
But I know what it would mean to choose

to come back to the world after a real loss—
to my heart with its broken tremolo, to that girl

on a horse, the reins still soft
hands—because I do and I do and I do.

Keetje Kuipers is the author of three collections of poetry: Beautiful in the mouth, prison keysand All its charmswhich includes poems published in both The Pushcart price and Best American Poetry anthologies. Keetje was a Stegner Fellow, Bread Loaf Fellow and Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident. She lives with her wife and children in Montana, where she is the editor of Northwest Poetry and board member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Clyde P. Johnson