In the Grey

By Kate Kearns

A light flurry blends against silver-aged cedar shingles.
Morning wants its accustomed warmth.

The curtain moves a little with the draft,
and a square of red light breathes on the wall.

The cat extends the windowsill, each hair ember-tipped.
Who can sleep in all this damned quiet?

Early winter presses, hand over frozen hand,
through invisible cracks.

Just there, on the other side of solitude,
drowsy love’s comfort.

In the yard, the peonies, petal-heavy on slender stems,
arc toward the ground and stretch into shortening days.

They’ll go the way the lilacs went – dry, straight, reaching
for nothing – and shrivel to fists below the frost.

Loss and joy are two needles on the same pine –
doubt, too, and grace.




Kearns_Kate_COVThank you for reading “In the Grey.” This is one of the twenty poems in my chapbook, How to Love an Introvert, published by Finishing Line Press.

Click here to order.


“From this little book’s opening poem, ‘Genesis,’ in which ‘the word insists upon itself,’ to its closing poem’s imperative, ‘Tell it like the scrape of the match before it’s burned up,’ How to Love an Introvert quietly celebrates the tidal cycles of human grief and resilient joy.   Kate Kearns creates a Maine landscape of human loves–mother, husband, daughter, father, sister—a register made in iambic waves as they touch her shore.”

Janet Sylvester, author of That Mulberry Wine, The Mark of Flesh, and Visitor at the Gate

“I look through those who look through me,” says the transparent speaker of “Window,” one of the twenty clear-eyed and lapidary lyrics in Kate Kearns’s debut chapbook, How to Love an Introvert.   As a lyric poet must, Kearns thinks in images.  She also feels on her pulses the subtlest insinuations between people and nature, from “the hollering sea” to “the curtain [that] moves a little with the draft.”   We recognize a devotion to, and kinship with, Elizabeth Bishop in these poems, made explicit in the superb homage, “Leaving Samambaia.”  But Bishop’s salutary influence undergoes an alchemical change, Kearns bringing her own brand of poignant intimacy to perceptions that are fresh, eccentric, and often beautiful.  And no one can hear the expert free-verse cadences in a poem like “In the Grey” without thinking, this poet’s ear is as fine and refined as her eye.

Steven Cramer, author of Goodbye to the Orchard and Clangings.


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