Kyle Potvin is an American poet whose debut full-length poetry collection, Loosen, appeared in 2021. Her chapbook, Sound Travels on Water, won the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. Kyle's poems have featured in Bellevue Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Ecotone, The New York Times and elsewhere.
Do You Know Pain?
The slice of the knife
The rock to the head
The blow to the eye
The lumbar puncture
That spinal tap
The mistaken try
The prenatal jarring
Pushing and bearing
The prick of the needle
White sores in the mouth
Cold fog in the brain
Then the burn of the beam
For thirty-three days
Day after day
The high-energy rays
Did you turn
Up your eyes
Write words in your mind
Tap beats on your thighs
To distract and deny
Then return to this earth
Forgetting it happened
The aching and bruising
The bleeding and writhing
For the scarring is healing
The hurting subsiding
The hunger returns
Tomato salted and ripe
The slip of the finger
The slice of the knife
Mysteries of the Corn
Your priest of 20 years retires.
Then your hairdresser.
Elephants become sacred
and the circus leaves town forever.
Even the only queen you've known is blue,
wearing sapphires from her dead father.
Loss is the corn
on your door:
You finger each
like a rosary bead:
Hail Mary Mother of Yours
lost in plaques and tangles.
Glory Be to Your Father, livelihood
lost to her care.
Hail Holy Queen, watch over the teen shot near the corner
and for the other who died of (conjecture).
Our Father, remember the birch, lost to infestation,
and the road around the lake, no longer traveled.
Each year, the husk dries,
decays a bit more.
But you hang it anyway,
a totem to stubbornness.
After all, an ear to the ground is useless.
You know what's coming.
At eight years old, I dodged the sisters' eyes:
ate my sandwich, then donned a saintly face,
walked out the gate, past church and up the rise
toward Horn's Variety, that mythic place.
The path was new to me. I walked alone
and genuflected to inspect a sheared-
off branch, a mica fleck, a swallow's bone.
I used a stick to write DAM HELL; then cleared
away the words. Dust pleated in my skirt.
I felt a breath unloosen in my chest,
expanding, fearless in this wondrous dirt
of disobedience, this fresh unrest.
The church bells rang. I rose, denied the call.
Picked freedom, sin, a red-hot fireball.
All poems: Loosen (Hobblebush Books)