Michele Leavitt – Three Poems


Kicking Out

A fluff-ball teeters on the rim
of her universe. And blinks. What’s this?
So not her pine-straw cradle, nest-mates,
or hovering beaks that offer juicy
meat. The nest has turned quite small,
its sides no longer steep. Her parents
chirp from distant trees, don’t seem
to see her open mouth, or hear
the pleas they always heard before.
What can she do but ruffle stubby
wings and shift her weight from threadlike
foot to foot, and leap?

Look down

If we sink under the burden
of a tree’s corpse sprawled on leaf-litter,

under the burden of the tree’s muteness,
under the burden of palpitation

— wing-drumming
of ruffled grouse —

If we sink under the burden
of incomprehension, conjuring separation

and the gut-pang of dusk,
do we grow so burdened,

we forget to ask — burdened by what?


No telling why the banana tree blossoms
this year – the frequent rains, the ashes spread
at its feet, the overhanging sweet gum’s death –
a way opened for it to reach a full potential,

as I hoped a way would open for you,
at thirteen, at our kitchen table
with a single banana
and a pile of condoms,
practicing one way to make it
possible for you to unfurl,
to keep your life your own.

Today, a team of butterflies circles
the male banana flower, which
droops, a purple, phallic
thing at rest. The butterflies take

what they want and flutter off,
leaving him with the female flowers
who also circle him, who cannot
yet leave the stalk, who already

swell into their next incarnations,
the full curves of fruit.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

It’s what stops me dead, what makes me stop, what sets my head on fire, what makes the a-ha’s pop, what’s not for hire, what can be heard, or seen, or touched, or smelled, or tasted, even blurred by rain or time, even when it doesn’t rhyme, even when it’s only read.


Michele Leavitt, a poet and essayist, is also a high school dropout, hepatitis C survivor, and former trial attorney. Her essays have appeared in venues including Guernica and Catapult. Poems appear most recently in North American Review and Rogue Agent. She is the author of the Kindle Singles memoir, Walk Away. More at: michelejleavitt.com.