Never a Note Forfeit. Number 8 in the Keystone Chapbook Series and co-winner of the 2010 Keystone Chapbook Prize, selected by guest judge Betsy Sholl:
“While there were several worthy manuscripts, this one seemed to embody its concerns with particular grace and skill. There is an elegance of rhythm, astute observation of the natural world, a grace of metaphor in which landscape is transformed into emotional geography. The speaker’s concerns are both real and directed away from the self into a relationship with an ‘other.’ The narrative is never overbearing, but rather allowed to emerge and recede through the series. While a loved one’s life is at stake, that emotional drama is played out in tension with the beauty and ephemeral nature of landscape and in such a manner that embrace and connection are the ultimate concerns.”
Publication: July 1, 2011 [125 copies]
Second printing: July, 2011
Third printing: July, 2011
Cover art and design by Ed and Alina Wheeler. Cover photograph, “The Bath Angel,” by Jackie Morris: http://jackiemorris.co.uk
Catherine Staples grew up in Dover, Massachusetts and still spends part of each summer on Cape Cod. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Third Coast, Commonweal, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and others; new poems are forthcoming at Blackbird and Valparaiso. She was selected by Amy Clampitt for the University of Pennsylvania’s William Carlos Williams Award and is the recipient of two APR Distinguished Poets’ Residencies. She teaches in the Honors program at Villanova University and lives in Devon, PA with her husband and children.
Beaverkill: the swaying front fields
with the stonewall dividing
one grassy meadow from the other.
That boggy bit of pasture turned
puddle, then island of wet, squelch
and slap, a hundred intimacies.
A dear convergence of peeper, cattail,
and blackbird, all of them summoned
from somewhere, but where?
Dragonflies skimming in, double-winged,
Atlantic blue, icily translucent
and red-winged blackbirds
practicing their scolds–
the way you
repeat chords of a song you’re learning.
Finger and fret. Listen again, try,
try again, never quitting. Like the Boston
Marathon at eleven, twelve, and thirteen
because Mom said you couldn’t
or cross-country skiing the saddle-back peak
or biking the tumbled rock of Shin Creek
or the teasing window-down banter
as you race your teenagers’ school bound
car singing Nelly’s, “Shake Your Tailfeathers.”
Same red running shorts, skinny legged.
You stride on like a deer loose
in the Pegan Hill meadow, free
of the wood, into the orchard.
New moon and apples, the grasses
barely stirring. You are the singing
beginning, all restless joy,
steadying us even as these blackbirds
sounding the depth of meadow, scolding,
getting it right.