Karen Elizabeth Sharpe’s “How Hunger like the Kingfisher” and Catherine Stearns “As Heron Is To Patience”

How to Know Hunger like the Kingfisher

by Karen Elizabeth Sharpe

Make yourself
high on a perch

plunge headfirst
below muscled waves,

a plummet of halcyon gash
and dagger-shaped bill.

30 feet or more. Pluck the silver
slipper craving of fish.

Fan your wings and rise.
High on a snag of hemlock

pound it bloody red.
There’s nothing

to fear or regret.
Swallow headfirst.

* Writing Prompt: Begin with noticing the natural world. Observe as many sounds, smells, colors as you can. Notice subtle and distinct noises and movements. What animal do you see? How is it moving about? Is it feeding? Playing? Is there something about its innate nature that surprises you? How does this animal survive? Spend time researching its characteristics and write the poem story of the animal.

As Heron Is To Patience

by Catherine Stearns

First light at the edge of the spillway where a small blue heron
unseduced by pricks of water-striders
or willow-entangling wind leads

with a lissome, muscular neck before lifting—
as if against resistant air—one prehistoric
claw out of the muck

to place it so slowly, so
assiduously, into the river
that it hurts.

As the heron’s profile disappears into fog,
you spin and spin
into a twirly girl again

just to feel the chill in your nose and toes
until the bird in you
almost balances

by water that cleaves
the surface of the earth where you are
obliged to sink to your knees.

* Writing Prompt: We humans are multi-dimensional, but of course we are animals, too. Consider the focus of an animal you have watched closely. Are there aspects of yourself, of your personality or the way you think, which you share with this creature? Try a poem in which you describe an animal in action and your own imagined experience of that action.

Karen Elizabeth Sharpe

Karen Elizabeth Sharpe is a poet from Westminster, Massachusetts. She works in higher education, volunteers for nonprofits, and spends most of her time exploring the wild outdoors. Karen is a poetry editor at the Worcester Review, and her poems have appeared in Catalyst, the Mizmor Anthology, Baseball Bard, Verse Virtual, Columbia Journal of Arts & Literature, and The Comstock Review, among others. Karen has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for Best of the Net. She is a member of the PoemWorks community of Greater Boston.

Catherine Stearns

Catherine (Kate) Stearns is the author of a chapbook Then & Again, published in 2018 by Slate Roof Press. Her poems may be found in Terrain.org, CALYX, New Ohio Review, and The Yale Review, among other journals. A long-time teacher of writing and literature, she lives in South Natick.