Guest Poem by Kathryn Kimball

Kathryn Kimball grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, has a Ph.D. in English Literature, and taught writing and nineteenth-century British and American literature. She divides her time between New York City and Carlisle, Cumbria. Her published work includes a 2021 chapbook, various poems and French poetry translations in literary journals, and a book of poetry accepted for publication in 2025. She won Columbia Journal’s 2023 prize for translation and has been a yoga practitioner for thirty years. This poem is from Acumen 109.

The Ghost Magnolia

in commemoration of the opening of the National Memorial for
Peace and Justice, Montgomery, Alabama, April 2018

Give me a ladder to climb
the ghost magnolia
on the corner of Pleasant Avenue
to sit there with the sweet fragrance
of the foot-wide blossoms so lemony sweet
I forget to breathe.

No. No ladder. No nostalgia for
the South of my childhood
where I was shaped in ignorance
of what could be done with trees.
No regret for the white flower patriarch
felled fifty years ago.

My sorrow is needed elsewhere.
Let the treeless lot be what it is now –
parking space for visitors to reckon with
800 rusting steel columns
hanging from the museum’s roof,
in memory of all those

who could not breathe.