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Kathe L. Palka


The past is never dead, it is not even past.  ~William Faulkner


In a waiting room, leafing through
National Geographic, I find pages

of them tumbling across landscapes,
accumulating along fence lines,
even gathered together
into a makeshift Christmas tree
spray painted white and lit up
against the desert sky.
Seeing them puts me back
on the bus of childhood,
jealous of a weed.
I can see it, feel it even,
in a sunny corner
of my mind where it has stayed
dry as bone but intact.
Pam Miller holds it on her lap
on the way to first grade
show-and-tell the first week of school,
a souvenir brought home
all the way to New Jersey
in the backseat of a Buick,
a small thorny indulgence.

Pam was an only child,
car trips with my family
were crowded and shorter,
space at a premium
unavailable to weeds.
I wanted to hold it
on the bus too but
Pam wouldn’t let me.
Arizona seemed exotic,
unreachable, exciting
and my curious envy
of a lonely little girl
clutching a tiny tumbleweed
remains long after
I’ve traveled far beyond it.


This poem first appeared in Exit 13 (May, 2015).
Used here with the author’s permission.



Kathe L. Palka’s latest book of free verse is Miracle of the Wine: New and Selected Poems (Grayson Books, 2012). She is a member of the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative and the Haiku Poets of the Garden State. Kathe also writes in the Japanese forms of haiku and tanka and won a Snapshot Press 2011 eChapbook Award for her short tanka collection, As the Years Pass. Her latest book is A Path of Desire, a collection created with Peter Newton in the collaborative form of tan renga. Kathe lives near Flemington, New Jersey, with her husband and their two sons. An avid gardener, she enjoys wandering the parklands of her native state whenever time permits. Learn more about her at, at her Haiku Foundation web page or from her Poet’s Profile here on YDP.


Post New Comment:
Lori Levy:
Great poem!
Posted 09/01/2015 12:39 PM
Posted 09/01/2015 11:07 AM
A very sweet reflection of when Carol use to travel with my family. Thank you.
Posted 09/01/2015 09:39 AM
I love this one. It makes me feel six years old again and I remember all those kinds of feelings.
Posted 09/01/2015 08:51 AM
Shoshauna Shy:
The last five lines of this clinch it! Isn't it amazing how our first memories stick with us!
Posted 09/01/2015 08:34 AM
i had a friend who brought milkweed pods in from country for science class and i was so jealous. This all came back with Kathe's poem. thank you!
Posted 09/01/2015 07:59 AM
'I can see it, feel it even'...I love this poem!!!
Posted 09/01/2015 07:16 AM
Alarie Tennille:
The grass is always greener in jealous eyes. Enjoyed this fresh take on ancient themes.
Posted 09/01/2015 02:19 AM

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