Katherine ('KT') Herr grew up and attended high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During her time at Smith, she enjoyed not only the creative pursuit of poetry, but also that of music, with a particular interest in singing. Having graduated, KT intends to continue penning both poetry and music. She hopes to one day be either a rock star, or Poet Laureate of the United States, or both, but recognizes the unlikelihood of such an outcome to her efforts. Ultimately, she would be perfectly satisfied to find herself working as a writing professor at a small liberal arts college, where she could give others the delightful guidance and encouragement she received from those at Smith.




 


  Katherine Herr '07


On Being Ill

a poem inspired by Virginia Woolf’s essay of the same title

I.

time weaves wistfully in
past the swallows at the window,
trickles from the hot compress
in a slow sweep of steam. it
measures itself in cold sweats and
in faces. in chills.

the clouds are blessedly distant,
equally reclined. they sail
with a stillness no one else can see.
i do nothing.

II.

they found me swimming
backward through blankets
to the headboard, where that damn
rat they brought with them
chews my words to pieces,
knots my neck.

their standing, their moving,
their walking on legs
mocks my rat-bred pain.
i claw for something
not evil, my toes curl with hate.

milk-faced, eyeless,
callously awful, they huddle
and swoop over my aches.

the bed was a coffin i couldn’t leave,
the day, a funeral i would
have to wake from.

III.

today the dr. tells me
not to write, as though

writing were something we do
with the broken bits
of our bodies.

i drink from the cup
he gives me.
the novel in my head
grunts and rumbles.

outside, autumn snuffs out
flowers one by one, taking
the same care with each.

my little cave
smells of tea and decay.
the front door opens
and slams shut decades ago:
it is my self at thirteen, come in
from a walk to tell my mother
about the frailty of dreams.

IV.

gloom blooms in my throat,
blossoms of catbriar thistle my tropes,
slime wheedles and croons.
i baffle the spoons,
but not the clock
now they’ve forbidden me even to talk –

chloral closes the curtains,
my limp fingers tingle
on top of the linens.

V.

her face surfaces more than others.
i cup it with uncertain hands,
wishing they were not
uncertain. funny, how they
now say i have a murmur of the heart,
(i wonder if it was her voice they heard,
whispering through my delusions:
hush, love, don’t listen to the lout –
write me a letter.)

my heart does not murmur,
it shouts.

VI.

when i die i will expect nothing,
having not made a heaven
in which to stay
myself.

death will be sound,
if anything. a voice – words
finally incomprehensible
except as pleasure
at their plump unfoldings.