Kimberly Johnson

June 24, 2016 Johnson Kimberly



Every beauty barbed, from the tiniest mites

Beading the Spanish

Moss in a drapery of bites


To these dark lawns aquiver with itches.

The night buzzes

And pops like a power surge


Through a fluorescent tube. Unmoving

I listen, nightlong

Your body a dear distance


Of sighs beside me. I have married

This predation,

Plighted my troth to its scurry


And sting. I wear like a ring the horizon’s

Compass of un-

Familiars: cormorant,


Hygrometer, whelk, frangipani.

I mouth each strange

Name as a succulent


Vow to love what I will never tame.

Wake, Sweet, and see

Florida tossing my forever bouquet:


In the hurricane blow from the gulf coast

The alligator flag

Fans its bracts, the ghostpalm ghosts.

Kimberly Johnson is the author of four poetry collections, including most recently Fatal (Persea
Books, 2022), written largely in response to the terminal diagnosis of her late spouse, the poet
Jay Hopler. Her translation of Virgil’s Georgics, which includes the earliest narration of the now-
familiar story of Orpheus and Eurydice, was published by Penguin Classics in 2009. Recipient
of fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the Utah Arts
Council, Johnson has recent work in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series and in
The Best American Poetry 2020.