Kathryn Lester-Bacon


Tongues of Flame
--for Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia, January 21st 2017

Yesterday, a few thousand miles away,
about fifteen women in a fishing village
with a population of sixty-five, marched
for women’s rights. Down the main road
they trooped, their voices burning through
the winter’s still chill, their shouts singeing
the single sleet-covered street that curls
through the middle of town. Forward
they marched, those fifteen women bearing
their posterboards, their messages that they needed
to be heard. I read about them the next morning,
in a sliver of time before my newborn daughter wakes,
again, hungry for her next meal from my body.
I pour a slow cup of coffee and listen. I can hear
their echoes, as I sit at my kitchen window, facing
another cold slab of a January day, clutching
a baby monitor in my right hand.
The spirit comes, friends.
We are no longer silent.
Or alone.




My friend survived a car crash today. We make it
to his bedside within a few hours. His bones
are dashed in one hand, joints rigged together
by wire and a surgeon's luck; his cheek blooms
into the purpling petals of a bruise; his left arm
and leg are shrouded in a sling, plastered,
immobile. And when he says—You should see
the other guy—we laugh. And when he says—Shit.
I'm alive—we shut the hell up and a sparrow
at the feeder outside his window suddenly lets loose
the most piercing call, and we all turn to see
her small white throat, and tawny, trembling body;
and one of us reaches across the bed to grip
our friend’s unshattered hand.



August 23rd, 2016

Saturn, Mars, and Antares blaze in the south,
a taut, bright line on the horizon.

I have twenty-three weeks of a baby
growing within me.

Neither fact is something I woke up deciding
to help along today.

Neither reveals anything
about the best-laid plans for the present,

or what to store up
for the future. Instead,

both demand only that I shut up
and wonder

how something out there hurls
through fathomless space

at thousands of miles per sec;
and how, at the same time,

without me doing anything,
a kidney is formed.



A Visitation

After Miss Lloyd reached out and gripped
my wrist between her clawed fingers
and remarkably strong thumb,

after she looked me straight
in the eye, attempted to take
a full breath, and said: “Stop.

You move too fast. Listen.
I saw a vision of you

by prayers,
a ladder

like angels.
You are

I didn't know what to say.
I thanked her, prayed,
and left the room.

After I went to the doctor and saw
that the lopsided blot
on my lungs

no longer wrinkled her forehead
in concern, heard her say
with a smile,

“I don't know how,
but we cannot find
that spot.

We've run all the tests.
It seems
you are

just fine,”
I thanked her, paid,
and returned home.

After I told my husband how Miss Lloyd
--bound to her bed by bones unable
any longer to bear her upright--

foretold my doctor's words,
I pushed open the kitchen door,
took down the peanut butter,

salt, flour, sweetened milk,
the last dab of whipped cream,
and began to make Miss Lloyd

an offering. Because, yes,
we are bodies. We all need
to eat. We all need

healing. Sometimes,
we can only begin
with a peanut butter pie.





Kathryn Lester-Bacon is a pastor and poet who works in Richmond, Virginia. She turns to poetry because she must explore the place where words run out, where the line breaks and the blank space takes over. She has been published in The Wayfarer, Curator Magazine, and Fidelia's Sisters.