Keetje Kuipers

At the Minnesota Northwoods Writers’ Conference, Keetje Kuipers gave a knock-out reading. I bought her most recent book, All its Charms, and have been slowly reading through it. She has the amazing ability to make her poetry seem like easy, natural speech, while at the same time packing so much into each word.  I especially love the tenderness in her work. Here’s a sample:

Landscape with Ocean and Nearly Dead Dog

Should I lay him on the slab at the vet’s? Let
somebody else do the work? Or back at home

in the yard, my coward’s hand on the syringe,
the last of the bird song in our ears? Now I find

one pink shell, one gray, watch my daughter
knee-deep in the waves as a child swims toward her

chewing flecks of styrofoam. It’s chicken, says the girl,
Eat it. And the ibis eyeing them, god-only-knows

in its gullet. What makes me want to take these fractures
home? The shale of blue plastic covered in stony

warts, starfish arm severed in the night, feelers
still tickling the air. I hold the dog’s head

in my lap, let him smell on my salted hands
every little thing we’re willing to give up.

Keetje Kuipers