Hurrah! On November 30th, Aeolus House released my newest book, Digging!
Digging is a wide-ranging collection of poems, many of them focused on the author’s life-journey and the transitioning of her three children from youth to adulthood, but also encompassing travels to such places as the Canadian Rockies, Ireland and Paris. Stylistically adventurous poems pay tribute to other contemporary poets while reflecting on the environmental crisis, social issues and the general human condition in our time. The underlying metaphor of “digging” concerns going deeper, in experience, in art, and by introspection, to uncover authentic roots and make stronger connections to the physical world and its creatures, to fellow human beings, and to the realms of the spirit.
Digging is from Aeolus House, c 2022.
To buy a copy
of Digging, you can etransfer $25.00 to payment(a)katemarshallflaherty.ca ($20 for the book and $5 shipping within Canada).
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Praise for Digging:
Kate Marshall Flaherty’s Digging excavates interior sojourns, the spiralling of intimates dying or becoming, Irish whimsy, personalized observed nature, cancer and climate traumas, and persistent inequalities, to the underlying loving wisdom that sustains all life. Her playfully profoundly spiritual poems truly reflect: “when we age, we grow our souls.” – Katerina Vaughan Fretwell, author of We Are Malala
This book is breathtaking in its technical artistry and its urgent appeal to the heart. These are poems to savour, transcendent and compelling. In a voice that’s both tender and precise, the poet leads readers to a new understanding of the world, and its unfathomable griefs and joys. This is a book to share with those you care about most. – Marsha Barber, author of Love You to Pieces and Kaddish for My Mother
Sample poems from Digging:
———Where did it come from, this call
———to the interior—
you will tree plant
in BC forests, four hours by chopper
from Prince George.
The cork boots, belt and shovel,
bandanas and bungees, tin stove
and tarp all packed, the many days’ drive
in an ancient van sealed
with shiny hope and duct tape.
———Your puppy ebullience
bounding over the phone
perhaps naïve, perhaps full-faith, both/and—
———it is your own interior you want to dig into,
four months without power, a phone, posts,
or a store—four months of trekking deep
into tree floor and spring flora, steel
spikes on your boots, hard resolve to stay,
———sweat, survive the entire time, learn thriving.
Today I bought you a simple bar of bio soap,
pocket knife, tin cup—you’ll grow
a beard, have much to reflect on
———in your solitary tent,
alone with your shovel and bag, no one to banter with
———but bears and the wind.
———You say you’ve been meditating daily, as you tighten
your core and build up your back strength—
———you want to take only what can fit in your pack.
I see your shoulders lift, as your mind
———learns to unburden.
———There is a root in your soft heart
that fingers deep; white filaments
spread down, green shoots unfurl like fiddlehead fern—
After Ada Limon’s “Instructions for Not Giving Up”
where the wipers smear it into yellow streaks.
Don’t curse its sisters for their mess, don’t sweep
them violently from the cement path, or rake them
with rage from the front grass. No, pick just one
green piece from the path, tenderly, as if picking up
a baby bird, a piece of beach glass, a gemstone
clapped free from its engagement ring. Pick it up with
both fingers and place it gingerly
in the palm. Look at it as if
it wasn’t the mess it makes, or the work it wields,
and rather reflect on how alike
it is—witness and witness-er,
green thing and greenhorn—see
if you can leave behind the chores in your head
that mark your messy relationship; see
if you can consider its seed like
a new thought that will turn work to wonder,
tomorrow’s task to today’s green buds of now.
I saw you sensing me
see you. Now that is something.
Did my step crumple the earth
and warn you? Did your tongue sniff my presence
in a split flick of in-breath? Did your tympanum
let in a listen, earless yet hearing?
And yet it was I who froze in my tracks, cold
quartz stone in my throat, a little choke
imagining you a baby rattler, the ones they say
have more untrained venom than their parents.
I stood there, petrified as grey shale
in this layered shield; you slithered away
into clay clumps.
Goliath and the garter snake—
I had no boots, you had no rattle;
I meant you no harm, loving my own young days
when my brother and I would hold your
coiling kin cool in our gentle palms,
not as sibilant prey
but a touching prayer,
in benevolent silence.
You do such good in the garden; even
your cousin the mighty Massassauga has her place.
Let me not freeze in fear when you part the grass,
but stand rather,
in solidarity, noting
your faint stripes, yellow ribbon, perfect pattern.
Let Silence and stealth inspire awe. O Felix Culpa,
oh necessary snake in our field. You make me
step lightly, tread careful, watch
my footprint on earth.
Letter to My Mother’s Spirit
Hey mom, tell me what it’s like to be free
of your body, with its fallen arches and crusted toes, with
its brown age spots and ridges of veins, with its yellow teeth
from decades of coffee, yet wide-as-valley-wind smile, always
flickering, even in the end when you slept half the time.
Tell me what it’s like to lose your stories—a lessening that distilled you
into pure presence, to be able to announce—without regret
or resentment—“I’m all mixed up!” And mean it. In a world
gone mad, I am moved by your simple honesty.
Tell me, what were you thinking all those hours staring
and staring, slumped yet comfortable, as trees swayed out the window?
Or was your mind risen above thinking, like a Zen master,
Or a newborn? You never were bored, all those hours of nothing,
or was it something, deeper than talking or forming thoughts?
Regret left you, as did resentment, like monarchs flitting away
from the emptied milkweed pods, on their incredible journey
across a continent on paper scrap wings.
Tell me, what did you mean when you told me solemnly
in your Sacred Heart Latin, more than once, noblesse oblige,
to whom much is given, much is expected. What does that say of me
and what I owe the universe, now that your body is gone?
I am so still-filled with thoughts, my mind
a wind turbine ever spinning with memories of you.
Can you remind me to breathe, please,
when heat rises in my belly? Will you show me the way
to be like you, in falling upwards?
Tell me, can you help me more now that you are everywhere?