Kirsten Hampton


The female robin clutches a fine twig
as she balances on the branch to build a nest.

She crafts the cup carefully, layers the sticks, makes a grass lining,
uses her breast to round the inside smooth.

Each spring, she can have many broods,
when the young are ready, she lets them fly.

The white crescent highlights her dark eye and she sees that I am cautious,
soon my children will be grown.  

She knows that offspring may come back only in storms or night,
yet she carries on, the first of the morning songbirds.


Exit the New York State Thruway and go west on Route 212
A last chance to buy groceries is the Price Chopper down one mile on the right
Then go past Euro Nuts Motor Repair on the left
Keep your eye out for the Centerville yoga business
Take the split there onto Blue Mountain Road
When you see the Rip Van Winkle Campground you know you are going
the right way
Pass the Blue Mountain Deli on the right but take the left fork
Even though it feels like you should continue straight.  This road is unsigned.
Travel .02 miles bearing left beyond Ulster County Road #35
Pass the Tango Café with the spray painted sign
Make a hard left sharply uphill as if you are turning back on yourself
At the stone wall turn right until you get to the dead end
Where it continues with a dirt road going steeply uphill
You cannot see the top of the road
You cannot see the cabin from the road
Turn right up the steep unmarked driveway and keep accelerating
so you don’t get stuck
Come see why I left my Big Apple accounting life   
Come see the white clouds resting in the valley of our blue mountain view.

CANANDAIGUA LAKE                        

The Indians called it “the chosen place” and it is mine too
a blue reservoir between rising hills, the fourth largest of the Finger Lakes,
part of two outstretched hands.  

I answer their beckoning and come in summer to hear the cottage door slam
and the till and stones crunch  as we tread in our sandals to the shore
or I come anytime in my mind when my heart begins to race, or my palms sweat,
or I feel that unsteady sense of self.

The high clouds over the west drumlin wait to make a day’s end
their billows will thin with the jet streams and coat the sky a shell of color,  
the turtle shell, the Iroquois believed, the only one strong enough
to carry the world.

The kids get in and I swim, the top layer of water warm, milky thick  
but a toe below the cold hints of perch and blue gills darting in the weed beds
and a lake floor that rolls, then drops more than two hundred feet,
to the dark deep the glacier carved two million years ago.

Overhead I see the Iroquois green corn moon, still out to celebrate the ripening,
and between the far moon and depth below
I drift, weightless, timeless, in ancient hands which hold me
when I am here, or anywhere. 

Kirsten Hampton

Kirsten Hampton lives by the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia.  She received her BA in English from Cornell University, with a concentration in poetry.  She is working on a poetry manuscript, The Growing Collection, and has previously published in professional, consumer, and poetry journals.



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