Katherine June Abrams
Four years younger than mine,
her daughter lies under the rubble.
Kathryn Stripling Byer, from “Her Daughter”
In a cement room with three windows
you read us your daughter’s poem
while somewhere in the desert
a woman whose daughter is dead
writes elegies on cinderblock walls
with the ashes of all she has left.
Your words gather us together,
student with teacher with
women with daughters, linking
us to each other like a fence
clinging to the wide arc
of our Blue Ridge Parkway.
These poems wave over us in
rust-grey ink on white flags,
transparent against a peach sunset
the same color
whether falling behind
mountain greens or desert browns.
Author’s Comment: Much of my writing has focused on finding the ways disconnected things can make a connection, and cohabitate in a meaningful way. When Kathryn Stripling Byer was a mentor for my senior seminar class at Appalachian State University the year she was Poet Laureate of North Carolina, we talked a lot about that theme in poetry. I was drawn to her own works that expressed those ideas, and found myself wanting to link to Kay, who was a visitor, and through her to the larger world, in a more permanent way.