Athena Kildegaard

What’s Certain

My grandfather hauled scrap metal
and telephone poles and chickens

in wire crates, his children, too,
across the state line. He carried

his voter card in his back pocket,
democrat, no one doubted it.

He liked to fish, but didn’t hunt,
and poured my suave uncle’s

trunk load of party booze
into a hole he’d dug for the purpose.

Sometimes, my grandmother told
my mother years after he had died,

he hung his pants on the bedpost.
Sure as shooting she’d be pregnant.

The Empire Builder

From the train it is easy
to spot deer in the green
landscape of North Dakota.

Rust spots on old Chevys.
The virgin’s blush. Moles
of age, cadgy blood of youth.

Strangers wobble car to car.
We wait for their return
so we can see their faces.

Late at night, while babies sleep,
the old women whisper, stop
giggles with their arthritic hands.

Moonlight stirs their white hair.
They are anemones waving
in the westward current.

At dawn everyone’s in Montana.
What did we miss, someone asks.
Deer, the old women think.

What Can Be Made of Nothing

the water-sopped

on cattails,
pleasure the air,

lift wing
all afternoon,
press beak
along quill

What signal,
what shot
will start them?

They loiter,
the thousand

Early Scarlet Horn

            (common on the Amsterdam market in 1610)

My daughter peels and chops carrots
even the in flagrante delicto double carrot
we'd passed around admiringly earlier

carrot from ker as in horn
toot your own or blow or honk
budge in on or slip between

as these two carrots did down in dark
slip between one another flagrant
in their purpose and so embraced

as my daughter will one day
let another slip between
welcome as a horn of scarlet

Athena Kildegaard

Athena Kildegaard is the author of three books of poetry. Her poems have appeared recently or will appear in Barn Owl Review, Zone 3, Water~Stone Review, Grist, Tinderbox Poetry Review, and elsewhere.