Kari King Fund for Poetry

The Kari King Poetry Fund will support Elk River Arts & Lectures' free poetry programs for people of all ages, from Poetry in the Classroom, to Poetry for Seniors, and beyond.

Kari King Fund for Poetry image

15

Supporters

Share:

The Kari King Poetry Fund will support Elk River Arts & Lectures' free poetry programs for people of all ages, from Poetry in the Classroom, to Poetry for Seniors, and beyond.

Kari King was a Montana poet and farmer felled young by a cruel cadre of diseases. She planted seeds of poetry, art, love, levity, compassion and deep appreciation of flora and fauna that will continue to bloom and grow. Writing and reading poetry brought her great solace and joy and this fund is intended to pollinate poetry for others as her legacy.


When I Die
Plan B

by Kari King

First, build a boat. Much smaller
than Noah’s and not in anticipation
of an epic flood; it doesn’t need to
be seaworthy or even to float. I’m
thinking of a canoe made of skin-
soft birch bark.

Two, ask of you
this awkward favor, this parting
gift: when the time comes, lay
my body on the fragrant floor of
the canoe, face up, one palm
open, one closed. I hesitate to
mention it, but you are going to
need some kind of crane to hoist
the vessel into the tops of trees.

The many armed willows along
the creek of that same name will
do nicely and bear the weight of a
light craft and her lone passenger.
It will look like a relic from an
ancient body of water long gone,
someone’s idea of a joke.

And I hope that you do laugh when you
look at it: a boat flying through trees
and sky, the way the world can look
one way and be something else,
entirely. The absurdity of thinking
we know how it is, some fixed and
absolute reality.

Laugh at this often, not jeering or bitter,
but heartily and with curiosity and compassion.

If it were summer, birds of every feather
will come to the leafy nest to feast.
If it were winter, it will be hawks and
eagles, owls and magpies. Either
way, it will make for excellent bird
watching.

Think of this floating coffin
as a coffee table to sit around under
the canopy of branches, the blue
wash of sky, the winking stars, the
lit eye of the moon. For silence.
Conversation.
Communion.
Contemplation.

Is the closed hand for having and
holding the things we can touch, few
and fleeting as they are? For petting
and bruising what our bodies know
as kith and kin? For grieving inevitable,
irreconcilable loss? Is the open hand
for surrender or welcoming; for letting
go and letting come?

Or is it to feel,
one more time, the way the sun warms,
the wind caresses, the rain quenches,
and the snow chills the bodies we are
born into and borne away through?