Ode on Inheritance

Kate Partridge

It begins, as usual, with the narrative of water:
                                      a sudden
                              spring on a dark slope,
            the ensuing drape of green. At the base, a kidney 

lake

wrinkles in its skin. If this is a metaphor for faith, then
                                          it must be
                                    impacted by the
            next scene, where a great canyon weighs against cliffs cloaked in

fire,

perhaps a thick rain. I could describe the dense afternoon with
                                          the bicycle,
                              the desert, the hail,
                  the available tree, the decision: soak or wait.

In

this case, no one did. Would you believe me if I said, as I
                                              watched pellets
                                    of hail melting in-
                  to my shirt, that it changed me? And when, just past the ridge,

I

saw the burn crouching through the valley, when I saw the bore marks
                                         driving into
                                    the ridges, that was when
                  I felt the pockmarked future, the balance shifting from

rock

to air. Remember, the water and its course have long ended.
                                          The hills cling
                              in silence, while on
their ribs, the assiduous trees sculpt themselves from their own embers.

Kate Partridge is the author of the collection Ends of the Earth. Her poems have appeared in Pleiades, Alaska Quarterly Review, Blackbird, and Colorado Review, among others. She is a graduate fellow at the University of Southern California, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing.
Originally published:
November 1, 2017

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