But somewhere between
the crane and the worm
between the days I pass through
and the days that pass
is the mind. And memory
which outruns the body and
grief which arrests it.”
from Statuary, Radial Symmetry
Louise Gluck, Pulitzer for poetry in 1993, in her foreword to Radial Symmetry, writes about Katherine Larson: “… what transpires in the presence of beauty occurs in a mind initially mesmerized or stunned. Other sensations follow, none of them articulate: first a rush of excitement, this succeded by a feeling of arrival, of completeness, and with this new completeness, insatiability, the enslaved attention refuses to relinquish its object. The hand (for example) cannot turn the page. And beauty is also Larson’s subject. -Either everything’s sublime or nothing is,- she writes”.
Katherine Larson is an American poet, research scientist, molecular biologist and field ecologist. She is the recipient of Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Poetry Prize and winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition in 2010 with Radial Symmetry.
A profound and clear sense of connection with nature pervades the reader when words and images appear to their mind. The beauty and mystery of life and love are central to Larson’s poetry and are depicted with extreme care and evocative details.
Science stands between the lines and never weighs the magic down, on the contrary it increases the progression of being in the present and the deep attunement to luminous natural landscapes.
Love at Thirty-Two Degrees
Today I dissected a squid,
the late acacia tossing its pollen
across the black of the lab bench.
In a few months the maples
will be bleeding. That was the thing:
there was no blood
only textures of gills creased like satin,
suction cups as planets in rows. Be careful
not to cut your finger, he says. But I’m thinking
of fingertips on my lover’s neck
last June. Amazing, hearts.
This brachial heart. After class,
I stole one from the formaldehyde
& watched it bloom in my bathroom sink
between cubes of ice.
Last night I threw my lab coat in the fire
& drove all night through the Arizona desert
with a thermos full of silver tequila.
It was the last of what we bought
on our way back from Guadalajara—
desert wind in the mouth, your mother’s
beat-up Honda, agaves
twisting up from the soil
like the limbs of cephalopods.
Outside of Tucson, saguaros so lovely
considering the cold, & the fact that you
weren’t there to warm me.
Suddenly drunk I was shouting that I wanted to see the stars
as my ancestors used to see them—
to see the godawful blue as Aurvandil’s frostbitten toe.
Then, there is the astronomer’s wife
ascending stairs to her bed.
The astronomer gazes out,
one eye at a time,
to a sky that expands
even as it falls apart
like a paper boat dissolving in bilge.
Furious, fuming stars.
When his migraine builds &
lodges its dark anchor behind
the eyes, he fastens the wooden buttons
of his jacket, & walks
outside with a flashlight
to keep company with the barn owl
who stares back at him with eyes
that are no greater or less than
a spiral galaxy.
The snow outside
is white & quiet
as a woman’s slip
against cracked floorboards.
So he walks to the house
inflamed by moonlight, & slips
into the bed with his wife
her hair & arms all
like fish confused by waves.
beyond pheromones, hormones, aesthetics of bone,
every time I make love for love’s sake alone,
I betray you.