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two poems

by Terry L. Kennedy



excerpted from What the Light Leaves Hidden





It matters: the difference between noticing

a muskrat, its barely visible wake, versus

the quick-ripple of the water snake on the otherwise

flat surface of the river’s horizon.

In other words, it could not be ignored,

the difference, nor could its implications:

I was frightened as should be expected.

Without fear, what is love? Without

love, for that matter, what do we

notice? The smallest things, those we live on

inside of, are always, without fail,

awaiting re-discovery. They are like

small children lost in a game of hide-n-seek;

which is to say, with the desire to be found

and, therefore, not hiding at all, not really.

A way to practice loss, you called it.

Then, I agreed. But now, I see differently,

see transformation—or the idea of it: how an exercise

becomes habit, becomes, eventually, such

an integral part of something larger, it ceases

to be itself; the way memory, over time, becomes

more real than the experience recollected: that day

on the river, I wish you hadn’t looked at me the way

you did: like someone saying,

This is going to hurt. It’s too late to avoid it.








You told me something once

about life, how to live it; or

rather, I saw it, one afternoon,

in your eyes. I see now

there’s no easy way out

of this. Every July, drought

or not, the hydrangeas push out

their lacy blooms; and the blooms,

having opened to their fullest, hang their heads—

not in shame of their newly formed bodies;

exhaustion maybe; or thankfulness.

But what do hydrangeas know of thanks?

And this is not that kind of poem;

not this morning. This morning,

as if overnight, though, of course,

it is never the case, the spring

at the corner of the yard is gushing

clear, cold, humming its way

to the river; and the river, for today, is not

a metaphor of life, its passing; is just a river;

doing a river’s work, singing a river’s song.

Let’s leave it at that.

From What the Light Leaves Hidden by Terry L. Kennedy. Copyright ©2023. Reprinted with the permission of Unicorn Press. 


Terry L. Kennedy is the author of the poetry collections What the Light Leaves Hidden and New River Breakdown. His work appears in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies including Cave Wall, Southern Review, and You Are River: Literature Inspired by the North Carolina Museum of Art. He currently serves as the Director of Creative Writing at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he edits The Greensboro Review





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