Excerpt from Kind

Read the striking first poem from Gretchen Primack’s collection, titled “Picnic.”

Picnic

Peas snug in their sweet green

coats, tea snug in its thermos,

absolutely orange tomatoes. Mice

root and clack and fill

their little lungs, each eye bright

as a berry. It is easy to forget Hell

here, and that is what we talk about:

Hell, and forgetting it. Once

I tried to save a bee, named

and cared for and cried for the bee.

In this plot curl the brown brain

rills of rows of seeds almost ready

and seeds spent. I’m tired of it all

being about life and death. We are

navel-gazy, a couple of Uncle Vanyas

woe-ing and alas-ing our way through

middle life. I’ve dressed this salad

before, searching for people who Get It

while drops pock the pond and

the pincushion of the garden.

It is still Sunday after all this time;

this Sunday is as long as March.

We need to hear our hearts to feel alive,

sometimes in a bitter way, sometimes

a lovely way, hear them too fast

and too hard in order to feel alive.

This might be why people hurt so many

so often: to hear the hearts of the scared

makes hearts beat fast.

No, mice, you are not this way. No,

bees, you are not, dogs, pigs, hens.

But we are, and you are

at our mercy. You cannot forget

Hell for even a day, and so I cannot

Either.

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