Gretchen Primack is the author of Kind, Visiting Days, and Doris’s Red Spaces. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, FIELD, Antioch Review, Ploughshares, Poet Lore, and many other journals and anthologies.
Over a decade ago, I spent time at an artist colony in Vermont. It was beautiful, but I felt lonely and unhappy. We were a small group, and living as we did on top of each other exposed our differences, especially around the way we treat other species. I feel they are here with us, not for us, and living that ethical stance can be hard in this world. The good that came out of the experience, though, was that it propelled a collection of poems, Kind.
Scared and stretched-smiling,
quaking in a vat of thunder like
you wouldn’t believe.
Angry cracks seizing pacemakers
and pulling out teeth all over
town. My tight little house
is a tin thimble, its white wood
walls trembling in their cup.
Come in mice, red bugs, clack
beetles, come hear safe the shocked
hollers. You are not alone,
and neither am I alone.
You are not alone. I am not.
You make me thirsty, yellow storm.
Thunder and thunder and no
rain. Thunder and no lightning
and no rain. Finally rain, coming,
I shush everything the better
to hear it, and take off my shoes
the better to feel you, my dear.
Fall in the green of the gloam,
having tired the thunder and the clicks
of light with your fall and
fall, dirty as a dollar, clean
as a nun. Warping the panes,
not knowing how to love me back,
or even sigh. Thunder! Heaven
havoc! Coming, coming, coming,
So much rain—
it just isn’t natural.
The herons are bothered:
no luck with dinner, no
luck with lunch.
And when the hailstones frog jump
the grass, rushing the birds
and newts inside,
the flirting sculptors run
for cover under a red umbrella,
and I want to say,
Just get to bed already.
Brothers Grimm hailstones, look at them:
lovely, unlonely eggs in the grass.