Katrinka Moore

Questions for the Penumbral Geographer

Q: Why the penumbra? A: That was where we began,
surveying the shadow around a shadow.
Umbra is simple—utterly raven—
but penumbra, that’s an imbroglio.

Surveying the shadow around a shadow
meant finding the line between the two,
pen and umbra. That’s the imbroglio:
the periphery’s blurred, there’s no true—

mean—line. Finding the in-between to
chart, we came to see margin as area
with the peripheries blurred. The truth’s
uneven, mutable, non-linear.

How to chart? Like the sea, this margin is area
that ebbs and expands
unevenly. Mutable, non-linear
matter between darkness and strands

of light. Ebbing, expanding.
How to explore this obscure
matter, near darkness, without stranding
ourselves in the duskscape, unmoored?

How to explore this obscure
site? We decided to choreograph
our way through the duskscape, inure
ourselves to dense ambiguity, graft

sight to hands and feet to choreograph
a viable deftness—like treading sap
through dense ambiguity. After
wading in, we found an overlap—

a visible deftness—light spreading back
through braids of darkness, speckled.
Wading in, we found overlapping
edges of seen & invisible.

Those braids of darkness speckle
(not the umbra, which is utterly raven)
edges of seen & invisible
across the penumbra, where we began.

Field Notes: the Morphographer

How did you learn?
                                                   My mother showed me.

What shapes do you become?
                                                   A type of bird, a type of cat. Occasionally
                                                   the wind.

Do you choose when, or does it
just happen?
                                                   When I need to. Or want. But as children we sometimes
                                                   slip, alter unexpectedly.

So, you select your shape purposefully?
                                                   My own purpose. Either from the center or to
                                                   the center.

Isn’t there a big difference?
                                                   Yes, regarding inspiration. But both are spirals.

Is spiraling part of shifting?
                                                   In the sense of singing, like smoke.

What’s with all these s-es?
                                                   There’s spirit, also.

Katrinka Moore's chapbook, This is Not a Story (Finishing Line Press, 2003) won the New Women’s Voices Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, most recently in di-vêrse’-city and listenlight.

She teaches at the Women's Studio Center in Long Island City, Queens, NY.

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