Appalachian Mountains Cabinet of Curiosities: Poem By Kathleen S. Burgess

Image of Appalachian-Mountains cabinet of curiosities

The Wonder Cupboard

On The Appalachian Soul, an exhibit by REsolve Studios

Small doors of the “Victorian Brain” open to red, lathed handles
on inverted bread-pan drawers. Nothing rises but nostalgia’s one
windup tune. Take old books, journals. Add a message, tiny bottle.

Presto! A shelf full as a trick hat. A box that talks. Scattered letters,
numbers hang. In cursive almost obsolete, a jigsawed word, Home.
Wood paddles recall days when dread beasted teachers’ closets.

A kneeling child fingers a cubbyhole for its marble, its brass bead.
She fondles aquarium stones, wishes for rainbows, forests, peace.
These, the wonders, should fill her life, so she pockets the marble.

From the birdhouse skyline no birds preach. A veteran’s boot,
recycled, is a small lamp base. Search for a way out of coal mines,
radiation in Southern Ohio. Find instead a Lincoln-head penny,

a toy. A plastic guitar pick. From a tree limb to manifold pipes
Illusion fumes onto a screen a future Martian-orange and desolate,
distressed as a photograph grieved by acid. In such a landscape

the single blue chip like a spring sky breathes mirage and hope.
A woman of light floats in a photograph on the wall. Teach them,
the children, to live. There’s wood, light, the guitar pick. Behold!

Kathleen S. Burgess About Kathleen S. Burgess

Kathleen S. Burgess lives in Chillicothe, Ohio, and writes narrative and lyric poetry about the American experience in a variety of voices. Her work has been published in North American Review, Evening Street Review, Main Street Rag, Atticus Review, The Examined Life, JMWW, r.kv.r.y, Central American Review, and others. Shaping What Was Left, a chapbook, and Reeds and Rushes—Pitch, Buzz, and Hum, the anthology she edited, are Pudding House publications.
Gardening with Wallace Stevens, a chapbook, was published in 2017 by Locofo Chaps, a site for politically oriented poetry, with cover art by Linda Holmes.

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