BIO: Kate Leigh's poems have appeared in several local anthologies. She was raised in a literary family, one in which reading aloud was encouraged, practiced, and valued.

Lens and Pen: From the Isles of Shoals, in collaboration with photographer, Sarah Flause, 2009 - $20.00 paperback, $30.00 hardcover, available at

Dances with Light: Isles of Shoals Poems, 2008 - $15.00

What triumph is there over flesh?
Our mistake, to think of bodies as in the way
Of anything we try to achieve.
They hold us here on earth.
We may dismiss them, we may lose their parts, we may
Rail against their limitations, or
Mistakenly treat them like machines.
But they are great gifts from She, the Creatress.

Feel with your heart, Think with your gut,
Walk with your legs, Run with your butt,
Hug with your arms, as you push away,
Your spine, as an arrow, guides your path today.

If in infancy you were cut, in a barbaric ritual,
Beneath that scar is flesh or bone, of touch and the inner home,
No one can take you entirely, under each piece lies a place,
Our scars make us more sensitive, desire for desire,
More powerful than any absence.

The eye of my mysterious body, watches the birth canal,
Babies glide out, the eye cannot close, it sees through scars.
So with the dear breasts removed, we feel the flesh exposed,
We stretch the puckers or the purpling, we stroke
Temporary structures, floating the boat of our lives to the far shore.
We grow attached and kneel within our temple,
We pray for length of life, give us more,
Take it all, comes the voice, take it all.

My face shines, my used form dances, my spirit finds release
In stretches and massage, my words build poems,
My children, here, are grown fine and of use to You, Universe.
Under my clothes is my waist, and above, and below.
There is the eye, folded in, that guides my tide.
Beneath is a tunnel like the funnel of the Milky Way,
For darkness, for resting starlight, and within each star
Is a seed, and inside the seed is energy, and the capsule holds
An image of a plant or person or womb or heart,
And in the end, we want to bite
The last doll in half, to see
If there is more.

—Kate Leigh


As I isolate myself on this island, and find
Occasional times to write,
I try to remember the “old shoaler” aspect of
My life. I cannot, so
I make it up as best I can, and jog my rusty
Mind with plausibilities.
I existed here in the sixties, I felt
The common thread of young, vital folks, their
Tender hearts,
Beating near my own … as we all half-knew
That our sails would soon
Blow far from our elders; that someday, as I
Find myself already, we would be alone.
Now I talk as I work, with folks who are
My vintage, a good vintage, idealists,
We believed in a new, improvable world, we
Felt naturally strong enough
To create this world with smiles and music,
Peace and friendship.
We had not itched within our own skins,
With fear and greed.
We scoffed at hypocrisy, and undervalued
Too-convenient compromise.

When the psychotherapist today, told me of
Her past job in the clinic versus
Her current private practice, she recognized
Her stress levels were
Lower now, because her clients had
Insurance, instead of the poor
And often desperate clinic-clients, who
Always needed to be listened to,
But could not often be easily helped.

What could I say, when she asked me
What happened to our dreams for another
Kind of world?
“Where have all the flowers gone?”
Is “there is a season, and a time for every
purpose under heaven”?
When she asks me how our ill-prepared
Children will deal with
The problems of our future world, the
Problems we once assumed already solved,
Can I answer, “All you need is love”?
When “all the leaves are brown, and the sky
is grey,” can we tell
Ourselves, “the times, they are a-changing”?

When I fill in the pieces of my past, the
Half-forgotten games as innocent children,
The lost words to songs, the favorite hiding
Places, I come across your name, and find you
Already gone before me from our shared
Past, can I care that we “let it bleed,”
That we, wrapped in Indian bedspreads,
Wore our hearts upon our sleeves?
Can I cry now, because I know you once
Remembered how I fell in love
With my own foot for its complexity, and saw
That as a good thing in me?
You knew instinctively how I must go to
Extremes because so much was expected of
Me, and I saw you working consistently
On your lists of drawing projects, because
You saw, with the eye of the soaring hawk,
The end of your life as your prey, and how
Much you'd still to sketch for us, before
Your final day.

So when the vintage is uncorked, the new
Wine of others is sampled,
And found weakly lacking, only a
Watered-down version
Of those single-malt years of youth,
Our abundant confidence,
We, for each other, unquestioningly …
Then we will drink and
“Turning into butterflies above our nation,”
We will lift, and sing,

As we sang, Sarah.

—Kate Leigh