Kimberly L. Becker, Poet


In the Purple and Blue of It

Walking the property
In the late afternoon
In the purple and blue of it
The stand of pines
Fairytale deepness
Past the reservoir
Crunching hulls of black walnuts
This is sacred ground
My eyes devour the view
That I like to claim as mine
But know it’s not, despite the deed
When I return to the anxiety
Of the city
I will long for this land
As a lover for the body of the beloved
I will recall its voice
The trickle of creek
       call of hawks
       rain as it comes up the valley
I have seen mesas
Great red tables
Altars for sacrifice
But it is these mountains
I hold against the bruise of my heart
The purple and blue 
Of their mothering forms

Purple       and       blue
 from Words Facing East (WordTech Editions, 2011)

Grief Kit
All night fox barked    My dog on red alert
Morning: two kits on road    show those barks were grief
After calling them to cross   divide of highway
she mourned their lack of passage    and instead their passing
Cry for fox, for Gulf,    for body of the world
This ink can undo nothing    Cannot undivide before and after
Can only pave a few lines    Can only post a meager sign:
Your loss is smaller     than the world's
Kits' eyes closed at death    as if in birth
give rise      to our harsh barks
of grace      and grief
from The Dividings (WordTech Editions, 2014) 

Snow Bed

In Fairbanks in December the room was stifling hot
You kept kicking
the covers down
to the foot of the bed,
but you felt triumphant
to have come this far
alone to this unhistoried bed
The muffled outside light finally drew you
out of bed
and to the window
where snow glowed
in dim daylight,
unmaking the bed
of your mind
and crumpling time
like kicked-off sheets
Alone beds are always safest
Later, in Bettles,
sled dogs
slept in beds
of snow,
covered by sheets
of changing lights

from The Bed Book (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020)

Ceremony in Lieu of a Funeral
in memory of my father

Lies to soothe the dying:
I forgive you
It doesn’t matter I love you, too
You keep picking through the alphabet for words to say goodbye for words to bless the ICU and oxygen tube
The way his mouth opened like a bird when you moistened it with swabs
the softness of hands you’d never held except as a child
Prayers ascend with smoke
Circling this way you remember circling that way you release
Water’s current carries what you can’t
from Flight (MadHat Press, 2021)

You called when I was in Atlanta, but I couldn't answer
I was at a conference and busy, yes, but also to have heard your voice
would have taken strength I needed to drive long hours back North
so instead I stop at our sacred places, impromptu pilgrimage
to Etowah Mounds—
climbing highest mound to pray—
then on to New Echota
proud capitol where The Trail of Tears started
These are the calls we have to answer, the ones from home to heart,
the ones that go deeper even than words
Skipping tourist shop, I reach for one red leaf
from this place of strength and grief, offering thanks.
My tears are for self,
but also from deeper source
As I merge back on the highway it starts to rain and I greet it
with a word you taught me
that I did not know I remembered,
but that re-members me:

first published in Claw & Blossom and forthcoming in Bringing Back the Fire (Spuyten Duyvil, 2022)