That Willow


Above that willow only stars and we
lay under, two whispered girls, half-blind
in the half-light, the long occult
branches, cool seep of earth against
our backs. Hatchlings, our breasts
not even breasts yet, bee stings,
tender as the mouth we saw
Marilyn Monroe make in the movies.
Mandy Goodpasture,
Mandy Goodpasture, girl I chased into

a swayback barn to kiss on heaps of
fresh-shorn hay and loll about in sifted
light, those ravening hours, the rafters
white with pigeon poo: O girl
who kissed me back, where are you now?
Under the willow we looked up
to see the stars fall one by one,
counted them, kept score, wanting
to defeat each other. I imagined in that
great expanse my life unwinding into space
until I disappeared and only stone and
fire and something else—voiceless,
mountain cold, full of real mercy—
touched me. I could not account for it,
the way it held and cast me out,
as if it breathed me. That tree: I saw
it had been cut down when I drove by,
its groan, gone under a neighbor’s saw,
the stars carried in its crown falling
a second time, and in the yellow grasses
the place where we lay dreaming, the years
we traveled distantly already in us.

Kathryn Hunt makes her home on the coast of the Salish Sea. Her poems have appeared in The Sun, Orion, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Radar, The Writer’s Almanac, The Missouri Review, and Narrative Magazine. Her first collection of poems, Long Way Through Ruin, was published by Blue Begonia Press in 2013. Before pursuing freelance writing and filmmaking full time, she worked as a waitress, a shipscaler, a short-order cook, a bookseller, a printer, and a food bank coordinator.