Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2020    fiction    all issues

Poetry Summer 2020 cover


Cover Vecteezy

Rodrigo Dela Peña
If a Wound is an Entrance for Light
& other poems

Shellie Harwood
Early Evening, Late September
& other poems

William A. Greenfield
The Deacon’s Lament
& other poems

J. H. Hall
& other poems

Kimberly Sailor
Two Aphids
& other poems

Sugar le Fae
& other poems

Lauren Sartor
Shopping Cart Woman
& other poems

Nathaniel Cairney
Mushroom Hunting, Jackson County, Kansas
& other poems

Elisa Carlsen
& other poems

Daniel Gorman
The Boy Achilles
& other poems

Samara Hill
I Look for Her Mostly Everywhere
& other poems

Nicole Justine Reid
Returning to Sensual
& other poems

David Ginsberg
Butterfly Wings
& other poems

Katherine B. Arthaud
Café Sant Ambroeus
& other poems

George R. Kramer
Young Odysseus
& other poems

Amy Swain
In Praise of Trees
& other poems

Frederick Shiels
Bad October: 2016
& other poems

Matthew A. Hamilton
Summer of '89
& other poems

Chris Kleinfelter
Getting from There to Here
& other poems

Martin Conte
Ghazal for the Shipwrecked
& other poems

Natalie LaFrance-Slack
I Do Not Owe You My Beauty
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Dark Water
& other poems

Katherine B. Arthaud

Café Sant Ambroeus

Across the yellow omelet and the lightly sugared,

sectioned half of grapefruit

and the pancake stack with a whipped cream crown,

across the heap of tawny hash browns and the tiny pats of butter

like golden gifts under a tree, my son sits tall and still.

I tell him he has crossed a line, seems better than before.

He says, I am still crossing the line (a line I see as a ribbon, or

neon on a road at night).

He opens his phone to show me a photograph:

a monarch butterfly on a frosted leaf against snow.

In the next booth, a woman—black beehive hairdo, face pale

as an ice rink—orders café au lait.

I summon the waiter.

My son bends to fetch a fallen napkin.

He disappears from sight beneath the table.

I startle as though touched by sudden rain.

I take nothing for granted.

the ant

high up above the madness of the green lawn

there is a flat chair and a small table and a glass of water

this is my secret not even the dogs are welcome here

yesterday I watched an ant carry in his pincers a green

sprig as big as its body across the boards toward the place

the roof connects another ant came around and ran a few

circles and the ant with the leaf wobbled on with great

strength and perseverance as I talked on the phone to my friend

who is a counselor for refugees and I told her this ant

could be a metaphor for all she was saying and she

laughed and agreed and the sun kept shining though

less and less so as night came on and we all of us

settled into ourselves somewhere in this world

while the ant family either did or did not welcome

their glistening brother with his offering and his long endeavor

and mighty unswerving determination to get back to them with

the bright green thing which once grew also but no more

and the sky turned slightly lavender because this is the gift

we get over and over whoever we are whatever we carry

at the barn

why are old people afraid of horses

young people are not thinking

about death and broken bones

they are galloping around the indoor ring

and jumping over tires while birds

sing in the rafters

even when the snow slides

off the roof and makes a sound like thunder

they are not afraid

but when the world is warm and the sky

is blue and the sun hovers

like a good nanny

the old people tack up

and circle the outdoor ring

their tall black horses startle

at the crows and the deer that

come down from the forest

the young people do not understand the old people

and the old people don’t remember being young

back when the world was red and crisp as an apple

and lust was a cushion as well as a thing to gallop

through shaggy shivering trees

o but you will find

us all at the fountain afterwards

washing the horses in the cool water

you will find us all at the fence

feeding them carrots and clover

soft whiskered nostrils quivering

it will be night by then

and the world cold as a bit

smelling slightly of leather

and grass

brown manes flaring in wind

lacy lazy silhouettes against a dying sun

with nothing to hold and no reason

to hold on.


A dark man in rubber boots stands center stage, introducing.

The first, in boots and a lavender tutu, tangles language, says

she does not know who she is alone.

The second raps, and bounces on his toes.

The third sings, discordant, about his divorced parents.

He wants to crush them like a glass he can’t part with.

A young woman with a headscarf tells: the history

of black people does not begin with slaves.

It was so cold out when we left our eyelashes froze.

It was so cold.

But my brain felt like a Van Gogh painting,

garish and stellar, messed up, singing with paint and light.

Paddle Tennis

We thought you were friends,

playful as otters in the sun,

even in the cold, with the mountains

blue and peaked with snow

in the distance. We thought

of you as friends. But today, Kay,

your pupils were pinpoints

against a watery blue—

and your words in the warming hut: blaming and cruel,

while Genevieve stared at her knees

and seemed to agree

with everything you stated, nodding her chin,

her hair black, slicked back, fixed and firm

with a floral fleece-lined headband. We

tried to explain, but you didn’t want to hear

from us, were not willing to discuss

the past, which held the fuller truth like a crockpot

in a kitchen. You wanted to talk only

about the future and your need for us

to change. Backed up against the window in our parkas,

we were not expecting this, and then

we went out in the cold and not to waste the afternoon,

we played, game after game, Julie and I determined to win,

reclaim lost dignity and ground. But

something was finished, forever gone, like land

eroded by a wind. And yet,

and yet, we raised our mittened hands into the air,

while a neon ball ripped through the graying sky,

a dislodged planet, a friendship unseated wobbling

in a new and troubling orbit. Hey,

will we have an end-of-year party this spring

or do we hang this up

like one of the old dented paddles

that dangle, obsolete, against the wooden wall?

And so,

where does this go, my friends, as life and time play onward

with or without us.

Where does this go, as hair turns gray and wispy,

breath condensing in winter’s air, laughter’s echoes

fading against the frozen hills, smiles thawing

in other rooms.

Trivial, eternal, cruel, this battle shimmers—

shimmers like hope and rage and everything that has ever

shimmered on this shimmering complicated nearly ruined earth.

Katherine Arthaud has been writing poetry for many years. She is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and currently serving as a UCC pastor in northern Vermont. She has studied with Howard Nemerov, Dave Smith, and Stephen Sandy, but that was years ago. James Merrill, Sharon Olds, Anne Sexton, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, and Sylvia Plath are some of her influences. She lives in Vermont with three mostly grown children who are sometimes home, sometimes not, and some dogs, and a mad cat.

Dotted Line