The One Right Touch
In her collection The One Right Touch, Utah poet Katharine Coles explores the sometimes delicate, sometimes sinewy workings of relationships between men and women. Lovers, spouses, brothers and sisters, as well as fathers and daughters, are represented here as Coles speaks to each in all their complexities.
The collection includes the prize-winning poem “Sex As A Trope” as well as a longer work entitled “Provisions,” which is made up of ten small poems under the headings of “Hunting,” “Cultivation,” and “Gathering.” The sections interweave the stories of the speaker hunting with her father as a teenager, attending a party as a young woman, and envying her neighbors late blooming roses as an adult. The three stories combine in an elegant, gently haunting flow of memory and image. Coles’ poems evoke the beauty of the natural world while on their way to capturing the strange grace of human relationships.
The full text of Katharine Cole’s The One Right Touch is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
Neither of us can guess if they’ll hurry
dusk along, those clouds that have loitered
all afternoon over the rooftops. From our window
the row of backyards appears, and one by one
sparrows lift from the trees and abandon
themselves to wind. No empty cupboard
sends me out in this weather to market,
but a restlessness, the storm,
and your notion of apples
completing a white bowl, candlelight
adrift on their skins. On the table, only that
lies between us, between our two knives
parting the meat; and after dinner we watch
every other moment the sky open
into fragile light. For those short illuminations
we hover near the window. We want each other
to believe that distance can’t change us.
The sparrows also rustle, nervous,
returning to the eaves. When we pass them
over each others bodies, our hands hesitate
as they never have, as if we considered
for the first time, what might happen
to anything that leaves our fingers.
Copyright © 1992 by Katharine Coles
Coles is the author of several collections of poetry, including Fault (2008), Utah Book Award winner The Golden Years of the Fourth Dimension (2001), and The One Right Touch (1992). She is also the author of the novels Fire Season (2005) and The Measurable World (1995). Her collaboration with visual artist Maureen O’Hara has led to the artists’ book Swoon (2003) as well as several installations. As the inaugural director of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, Coles edited the anthology Blueprints: Bringing Poetry into Communities (2011) and the reports Poetry & New Media: A Users’ Guide and Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry.
Coles has received numerous honors for her work, including a term as Utah’s poet laureate, both a fellowship and a New Forms Project grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a PEN New Writer’s Award, an Antarctic Artists and Writers Grant from the National Science Foundation, and grants from the Utah Arts Council and the Salt Lake City Arts Council.