by Kathy Cantley Ackerman
I know how she dreaded this
shedding of summer’s skin,
raw to her as a sunburn sloughing off.
Everything is dying, she’d say,
everything is dead,
as though nothing thrived
amid the brown and black of winter trees.
Now that she’s gone I feel the falling differently,
the loss of warmth despite October blue
bluer than the sleek blue stripe of skink
I could have taught her how to love
given time enough.
Given time enough I’d show her this—
the infant green chameleon
keeps the summer with her,
hasn’t learned how hard it is to change.
See her drape herself across the autumn mum
waiting to be golden.
Kathy Cantley Ackerman was born in coal country, West Virginia, grew up in Ohio, and has lived in the Carolinas since 1984. She holds a PhD in literature from the University of South Carolina and has published one full-length collection of poems, Coal River Road (Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama), as well as three poetry chapbooks and The Heart of Revolution, the only book to date about North Carolina proletarian novelist Olive Tilford Dargan (University of Tennessee Press). Ackerman’s poems have appeared in journals including Southern Poetry Review, Many Mountains Moving, and North American Review. Her latest collection, A Quarrel of Atoms, was a finalist for the Howling Bird Press Book Prize, The Dogfish Head Prize, and the Lena Shull Book Award. She serves as Dean of Arts and Sciences and Writer-in-Residence at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, North Carolina.