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.



This is a photo of Gretchen Primack in VermontOver 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.








Vermont I


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.


Vermont II


Thunder and thunder and no

rain. Thunder and no lightning

and no rain. Finally rain, coming,

coming, came.


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,



Vermont III


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.