A Grain of Sky


A Grain Of Sky

It was grey and hard as a pebble
in the back, but when they let her sit up front,
the grey turned blue and shone like everything
up there, even her father’s head as he turned
from the steering wheel–”you feeling better now?”
face moist with being human too long
in a car–

she pushed the kernal about her mouth, but gently,
like she’d prodded her first loose tooth–amazed then too
to find that the malleability of life so specifically
included her, excited somehow,
even when nudging the sore spots–

And she did feel better, perhaps because the front seat
did not in fact swerve so much,
and because a need had been noticed, noticed by
her folks–

She kept the kernal in her mouth then
for years–it had lodged there
even before she’d gotten into that car, to tell the truth–
a stupid place to carry it, she sometimes thought,
but girls’ clothes did not
have very good pockets–

and became so used to its wedge
at the side of a molar, lodged between
gum and cheek, that she could breathe, chew, swallow,
without even tasting
it,  without feeling the weight
of its expanse, except maybe upon a glance
out city glass,
when she felt a call of like-to-like
from the space above the cornices,
or on a sudden look up, walking.

Why couldn’t she just swallow it–
let the cerulean pump through her arteries,
lighten the whole dark lot?

Maybe because she only ever felt that blue groat hers
when she could run a tongue over its hull–

Or because she wanted to keep the grain whole
for further study, or, after a quick boil,
to pass it on–

Of course, more were always available–
should, at least, be available–if she could only
breathe them in–
the way you need to breath in sky
to reap its seed, lungs scything.

But she found herself able only
to take small sips,
not understanding
that you could not choke on sky,
overdose on sky, even shake loose
that grain you had already
been granted–


Here’s a prosish poem of sorts for Kerry O’Connor’s very cool prompt “In Other Words” on With Real Toads.

Computer problems all day, but fixed now!  If you have a chance, check out my new novel, Nice, which also describes kids on car trips and maybe even the search for grains of sky.  PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover

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19 Comments on “A Grain of Sky”

  1. gailatthefarm Says:

    “…you could not choke on sky…”

    Beautiful and deep.

  2. Sumana Roy Says:

    a grain with infinite possibilities…beautiful

  3. Jim Says:

    Some things we don’t readily appreciate their value.
    I like traveling with children. Best though, to keep them occupied.
    Congrats on your new book.

  4. I like a lot of things in this.. The thought of a what a glimpse of blue can do, how to cope and be a human in the car, how it felt to be noticed when you where a child. Poetry and prose are so close sometimes.

  5. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    Such an amazing poem. There is so much more to any journey than meets the eye, and the things we carry with us are little understood, even by ourselves.

  6. brian miller Says:

    seriously a solidly build poem k…
    i could analyze it, but at the end of the day
    the feeling comes through…and it is well put together

    one of your best imho

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    This is a very ticklish metaphor(much like the hull lodged in molar-spaces)but you work it so perfectly and smoothly, karin, that it seems as natural as the sky itself. My favorite part is the cerulean stanza, and the lyrical finish. Really a poem that is poetry even in its most prose-ish places.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes, it is super odd. That’s kind of why I chose it over the other ideas that presented themselves–it just seemed kind of strange, which I figured meant that it was fairly original. (Ha!) k.

      On Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 1:11 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


    • ManicDdaily Says:

      ps thanks. k.

      On Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 1:27 PM, Karin Gustafson wrote:

      > Yes, it is super odd. That’s kind of why I chose it over the other ideas > that presented themselves–it just seemed kind of strange, which I figured > meant that it was fairly original. (Ha!) k. > > On Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 1:11 PM, ManicDDaily > wrote: > >>

  8. lolamouse Says:

    This reminded me of my own childhood car trips. I, too, felt sick in the back seat with its partial views of the sky, sideways movement, etc. I love how you captured this so well!

  9. Polly Says:

    How fascinating that one becomes the child with the grain as we read your gripping, wonderfully fantastic poem.

    I love all of it, but have to pick out ‘Why couldn’t she just swallow it– / let the cerulean pump through her arteries, / lighten the whole dark lot?’ and ‘Maybe because she only ever felt that blue groat hers / when she could run a tongue over its hull–’ two fabulously evocative lines.

    This one’s a keeper 🙂

  10. I enjoy the mystery of this piece the way it draws one through to the end to find out what the pebble is…nicely captured, K.

  11. to overdose on sky….what a lovely way to die!

    excellent write!

  12. grapeling Says:

    brilliant – intimate, intelligent, but about not choking on sky? Tonight I watched the John Oliver piece from last week, (or recent, if not then), on how drones have made children fear the blue sky in countries where “we” use them. He makes the point that the US govt has managed to take the one piece of freedom left… ~

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