South Fork Poetry: ‘Gratitude’

By Kathy Engel

This morning the sun souses
and shimmers through trees swaying

in an arc over a road I’ve never before
noticed called Millstone: two syllables,

accrued weight. Soon leaves
will flame and fall to the ground like prayer

reminding me why I keep vigil at the town
square, draft statements, help build a school.

This morning after the first sip of Native Thunder
coffee roasted by a neighbor, I pick up last

night’s cups stuffed with crumpled tissue, not
annoyed about the mess but grateful the messers are

here walking through the house in underwear
and unbrushed endless hair. They are my life, as is

the light seducing the trees. My daughters, blinking
like stars dropped into life on earth, appear on this

summer morning and first Johnny Cash
then Chucho Valdes ripples through the house.

We plan what we will cook for dinner; green beans
their father grew spill out of baskets and bowls.

    “Gratitude” is one of three poems by Kathy Engel in the Beloit Poetry Journal’s spring 2012 issue, which serves as the chapbook for the Split This Rock poetry festival in Washington, D.C., from March 22 to 25. Ms. Engel, who lives in Sagaponack, will join Alice Walker and Naomi Shihab Nye, among others, in reading “poems of provocation and witness” at the festival, which aims to promote social change through workshops, panel discussions, and youth programs. Ms. Engel is a founder of the women’s organization Madre and of the Hayground School. She teaches at New York University.


thank you Kathy Such a simple work with such powerful meaning and capacity for change... Sheril