K.A. McLain is a thoughtful poet, carefully choosing each word to communicate her message.
In the course of daily life, a new idea will come. “It won’t let you go, and so you have to write it,” K.A. shares. Her brainstorming process leads to discovering the new poem’s general direction. Then each poem is fit into a standardized format, given precise rhythm and rhyme. “For me, the discipline of expressing the idea that way is more satisfying,” K.A. reveals.
K.A. invests a great deal of time into a new poem, and then sets it aside. “It sits for a while to perk,” she says, “and then you go back and revise.”
“I want to say what I mean,” K.A. shares. “If you are concerned about how you say what you say, which I am – if that is as important as your message, which to me it is – your chances of getting that on the first take are not good. Words can be cheap, but they shouldn’t be. Words have power. The way something is said will strike a chord with people if it’s thoughtfully crafted.”
Of this collection of poems, K.A. reveals, “One of these is a prayer. One of them is a rumination on the end of life decisions and issues. One lends itself to multiple interpretations. I won’t say what it’s about, because I could even interpret it in multiple ways.”
Rite of Passage
Contentment resting on my face,
I drifted in that peaceful place,
Reposed in sweet serenity,
With life requiring naught of me.
What breath caressed my countenance
And stirred me from my dreamer’s trance?
It whispered down a corridor,
Resounding with a rousing roar.
Compelled, as if I had no choice,
I started toward the vibrant voice
That beckoned, urgent, from afar,
“Fear not! Be more than what you are!”
So, prodded by some unknown force,
I inched along my ordained course,
And squeezing through the lightless hall,
I struggled toward the sacred call
That, quickening my dying race,
Now thrust me toward a glad embrace
Into the realm of radiance.
At last, I’d come to join the dance.
A Knitter’s Prayer
Before our birth, O God, you choose
The pattern of our lives, the hues
And textures of the sacred strands
That, passing through your holy hands,
Are knit into a work of art
Conceived in the Creator’s heart.
And when slipped stitch or broken cord
Would mar its beauty, loving Lord,
Repair with tender touch, and mend
Unraveled threads, that in the end,
The Grand Design you might portray
In us – unique imago Dei.
The Bird Watcher
The birds fly forth from memory’s cage,
Parade in turn across the stage
Of my mind’s eye, while watchful, I
Transfixed and cloaked in shadow, lie
As in my youth. The robin, dressed
In coat and tails and orange vest
Sings carols with a brilliant band
Of finches, touched by Midas’ hand.
In azure jackets, jaunty jays
A jeering, jabb’ring chorus raise.
The emerald-suited hummingbird
With crimson collar wheeled and whirred
Above, while silver-throated thrush
Piped melodies from in the brush.
And heralding with hammered beat,
Woodpecker summons all to greet
The red-robed cardinal, come to bless
His former see with happiness.
The whippoorwill casts evening’s spell
And guarded by the sentinel,
The owl, who, perched in nearby tree
Checks passers’-by identity,
‘Neath twilight’s shroud all rest in peace.
My night draws nigh, with my release
Impending. I no longer dread
The vultures gliding overhead.
The mourning doves with plaintive cry
And somber black-garbed crows stand by,
For warbled trills borne on the breeze
Are silenced by this whir and wheeze
And whoosh, relentless, rhythmic sound
Of “life support” that keeps me bound
In sterile, wordless world of white.
My spirit longs to soar in flight,
As feathered friends in fall would slip
Away from winter’s icy grip,
And to eternal spring migrate
At heaven’s call. Wings clipped, I wait.