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Katherine Riegel

Katherine Riegel is the author of two poetry collections, What the Mouth Was Made For (FutureCycle Press, 2013) and Castaway (FutureCycle Press, 2010). She is the cofounder and poetry editor of Sweet: A Literary Confection.

By This Poet


What I Would Like to Grow in My Garden

Peonies, heavy and pink as ’80s bridesmaid dresses
and scented just the same. Sweet pea,
because I like clashing smells and the car
I drove in college was named that: a pea-green
Datsun with a tendency to backfire.

Sugar snap peas, which I might as well
call memory bites for how they taste like
being fourteen and still mourning the horse farm
I had been uprooted from at ten.
Also: sage, mint, and thyme—the clocks
of summer—and watermelon and blue lobelia.

Lavender for the bees and because I hate
all fake lavender smells. Tomatoes to cut
and place on toasted bread for BLTs, with or without
the b and the l. I’d like, too, to plant
the sweet alyssum that smells like honey and peace,
and for it to bloom even when it’s hot,

and also lilies, so I have something left
to look at when the rabbits come.
They always come. They are
always hungry. And I think I am done
protecting one sweet thing from another.

Snow White

I dreamt I woke in winter—
even the river
silent, its tongue caught mid-
sentence, like mine
when someone looks at me
too closely. It had been years

since I understood winter
so well I knew it to be inside
my own bone-cage, since I had
smelled that kind of white.

White of the frozen rabbit
my spaniel dragged in from the back
yard, white of horse-breath in the barn,
white of birds so desperate
for seed they pretend colorlessness—

except the cardinal, drop of heat,
too neat to be blood, too brave
to be symbol. I woke in winter

and almost-knew what I had always
almost-known, back in those dark
five o’clock walks home for dinner:

something about loneliness living
in the well of the throat, something
about fur and burrowing
and black eyes
waiting for the thaw.