Sugar pine, Jeffrey pine, mottled bark
with scent of vanilla and butterscotch,
candy my grandfather ate.
Monarchs will only eat milkweed, little blues
only buckwheat or lupine. Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy
He sang to himself in his armchair eating peanuts
by the handful. An evening grosbeak can crack
a cherry stone or a pinky. He stole his son’s
paper route money to go drinking.
My father never forgave him.
When the kids had a big game, he was at
the bar. When my grandmother worked three
jobs, he was at the bar. When their shitty
apartment burned down, he was at the bar.
My grandmother comes to me sometimes
as a spotted yellow butterfly. Bees can’t see
red but they see yellow and ultraviolet.
Evolution doesn’t always make sense.
One day he stopped cold turkey. After he quit,
he lost the house on Super Lotto tickets. He’d hide
a thimble in the room and we’d try to find it.
I helped him with his crossword.
He helped me with my homework.
Now spell symbiotic. When a deer tick bites
a fence lizard, the lizard’s blood cleanses
the Lyme-infected tick. S-Y-M-B-
I always loved him.
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood of the Lamb. Even the trees depend
on the birds to disperse their seeds.
Nothing happens without fire.
Kim Harvey is a San Francisco Bay Area poet and a reader for Palette Poetry. She is an alumni of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Her work has recently appeared in Rattle, 3Elements Review, Raw Art Review, Wraparound South, Typishly, and Poets Reading the News. She was awarded 2nd Prize in the Comstock Review’s 2017 Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest and Special Merit in the 2018 contest.