NEA Literature Fellowships

Karen Rigby

Back to NEA Literature Fellowships
(2007 - Poetry)


Throw a bone in the crock.
Cut onions, bon-voyage streamers,
rub tendons with marjoram
and cabbage soft enough to tear

on my tongue. Give me
the good stink of root cellar
and white night, soup so crimson
I could paint the walls:

blood from the mink farms,
hands riveting bolts
to the gunwale of a ship.
Public beatings in Yevtushenko's
Babi Yar. Borscht steams

like a horse combed to a rich gloss
for the May Day parade.
Once, on a tour of the Orthodox domes,
a bicyclist rode past balancing

his green gardener's pail
between the handlebars.
Potatos and a newborn dog
bedded on newsprint.
The man could hardly steer

with the weight of his gifts.
Country of exiles, bath houses,
blood of the czars--
I raise the bowl and drink
to the steppe's red beets.

Karen Rigby was born in the Republic of Panama in 1979. Her first chapbook, Festival Bone, was published in 2004. Other poems have appeared in journals including Field, New England Review, Black Warrior Review, and Swink. In 2006, she received a full fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center and a Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council artist opportunity grant. Karen holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota and a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.

Photo courtesy of the author

Author's Statement