Kathleen Jesme

Ellipsis–or an eclipse of the mind’s
sun stops everything. Asterisk.

And you / I begin again.

Who is
moving these fingers. I vouch for. But beyond that,
wading out,
sometimes, into the shallow water
to take it back.

The coastline doesn’t allow that.
The moon takes back all the claimed sand

as the mind works

along its own line.


Today is shore, not coast. You’re going
to “make a bunch of noise”
now, a warning to me

that I won’t be able to heed–
My hands might become lawless

in the absence
of aural control. No auditorium for them.

Hang them up on the wall like a pair of snowshoes. Keep them

still until the noise subsides. A wave

The coastline remaking itself. From long ago.

At the End of Things

Light nudged aside
five percent conscious. The rest conjectured,
floating, bereft.

So mu–
twelfth letter of the Greek
alphabet, translate

as mother. Translate
as cow
calling from the meadow.

Read it away
like a tattoo
that fades slightly.

I pick a stalk and roll it between
my thumb and index
finger. Until

the grains fall
at my feet, what grows

We know repetition.
Even longer when
the tide’s out.

Nerve impulses: never again shall they meet,
the coastline and the extra
or misplaced.

To have placed a lien
on the coast,
assuring that it will not be sold

without one’s claim
being entered
and paid.


c.1200, from O.N. þvert “across,” originally neut. of thverr (adj.) “transverse, across,” cognate with O.E. þweorh “transverse, perverse, angry, cross,” from P.Gmc. *thwerkhaz (cf. M.Du. dwers, Du. dwars “cross-grained, contrary.”


Not beside or cut away
not along the edge around the corners
but right across
from here to there
the only way to be somewhere



How perverse
this need to travel!



How parse this need to travel? Contrary
to expectations. I’ve twisted myself
around long enough to find
the place

where I’ve been going

a dark way
and blocked
by light

Kathleen Jesme is the author of three collections of poems: The Plum-Stone Game (2009, Ahsahta Press), Motherhouse (2005, Pleiades Press) and Fire Eater (2003, University of Tampa Press). She lives in Minnesota.

“Some years ago, I was sitting on the swing on my front porch on a warm summer afternoon in late July. Suddenly a hummingbird hovered right in front of me, about a foot away. It circled me twice and then zinged off. The only thing I could figure was that the red t-shirt I was wearing made me look like the mother of all flowers to that bird.”