The Order of Things New and Selected Poems by Katharine Carle

picture of Katharine Carle
Photo by Rennie McQuilkin.  

Here we have the best of Katharine Carle’s earlier books in one volume with poems written more recently. John L. Stanizzi  writes, “A poignant homage to the grace of nostalgia, Katharine Carle’s new book, The Order of Things, is a profound portrait of her life, of family, of friends, and of all the experiences in life that engender storms of tragedy as well as impossibly joyous times and humorous moments.  The Order of Things weaves Katharine’s wisdom with her tenderness and reverence for memories as touching as they are wise. These poems are both heartbreaking and joyous as they intertwine and touch us deeply, permanently, acknowledging life’s superior mysteries fiercely, wisely, diligently, and lovingly.” And this from Carol Simpson: “Katharine Carle’s spirit speaks on every page of her latest book, The Order of Things.  Here a bit of humor, there a wry smile: a bittersweetness of memories and love stories about people and places in her heart.  In poem after poem, I resonated to her evocative words.”
  The Order of Things cover image
  Cover photo: Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis.

Born in the vortex of the Great Depression, Katharine Redfield Carle grew up as a tomboy in North Haven, CT. Marrying early as a freshman at Wellesley College, she mothered two sons while working in cardiac research to help her husband through medical school. In her second marriage to a man she describes as “the good husband,” she inherited two daughters. As owners of travel agencies with a focus on educational journeys for museums and schools, she and her husband traveled much of the world.  A Christian and a Buddhist, she tries to practice the Zen proverb that urges us to “chop wood and carry water” as a way to achieve enlightenment, which for her occurs in the process of washing the dishes, writing the book, and trekking the fields. Katharine Carle’s work has appeared in a number of literary journals; in the 2001 poetry collection produced at The Frost Place, where she was an invited participant in the Robert Frost Festival of Poetry; and in three books, Enter the Wood, Divided Eye, and The Uncommon Nativity of Common Things, from which selections are offered in this volume. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies. She leads a writing group at the Seabury retirement community in Bloomfield, Connecticut, where she also plans literary events. In 2014 she continued her life as a traveler with a visit to Yosemite National Park, where she became fascinated by the culture and spirit of the native people of that region. Having recently celebrated her ninetieth birthday, she has no plans to slow down.

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ISBN 978-1-943826-66-7
First Edition, 2020

6" x 9" paperback, 80 pages

This book can be ordered from all bookstores, including Amazon.



Copyright © 2020 by Katharine Redfield Carle




I’m going up my tree
now, before dinner.

I like the feeling I get
when I jump for the lowest branch,
wrap my ankles, then my knees
around it. I like the feeling of the bark,

I like dangling like a monkey,
waiting ’til the blood pounds in my head.

Up I shinny, stay with the trunk,
hold tight to it. I’m part of the tree.
No one can see me!
I’m brown like the trunk.

I feel this tree is mine
as I work my arms around it
and feel green like these greeny
leaves, spines and points.

Is that Mom calling dinner time?
I’ll wait a bit. She can’t see me
up at the top here, can’t know
where I am
or who.

The Forge


His 6’6” towers over me
in my seventh year, his 80th.
A gold chain glitters against his waistcoat
as I stand opposite its bottom button.

In the damp, dark basement of the Salem house,
we bend over the fieldstone fire pit dug into the dirt floor.
As he takes the bellows to the fire, heats it white hot,
his large-knuckled hands grasping the bellows
turn ruddy. He picks up the fire-blackened tongs
and selects a rectangular piece of dirty metal
from a pile of scrap beside him,

then plunges it into the fire until it begins
to glow, and removes it to the anvil
to shape the piece. Raising his ball-peen hammer,
he beats on this now dully glowing
strip of grey metal, shaping it.

Lifting the metal from the anvil
with tongs, he dunks it
with a sizzle into a bucket
of dirty water.

The metal must be submitted to the fire,
must suffer repeated blows
to become tough and flexible,
must be stretched and pounded.
(Just so, our Smith has cause to hold                                              
our feet to the fire, to stretch us, to immerse
the spirit, ’til we too emerge shining.)  

Now, Grampa Cassino holds up a shining silver C.
He places it on me.



In that calm before the storm,
we sit side by side, sisters in the sun,
wondering silently – when it has passed

what will have disappeared;                                     
what will last?
The curve of your shoulder will remain
safe in the room behind my eye.

Your sense of humor will wash over
me, leaving the foam from its crest,
rinsing me in the salt from
the spice of your life.

Raising the Chapel


An ark is rising.               
Confirmed between two
buildings, it will be defined   
by an inner space the size
of an empty city lot, where kids
might have played kick-the-can.

We elders wait, strangely excited,
impatient to see what
will rise.

Begin at the ground – this earth
where the ark will be
has been hallowed                
by many feet in fair and foul                
weather – farmers and workmen
ploughing, planting, moving earth.

Now up from that earth
the face of the ark,
first sign of its nature rises,
a front wall aspiring,
cement blocks stepping one by one
toward the sky.

It is ready                               
for timbers of Southern Pine
custom-cut for the roof, arching
across the open space
like the ribs of an upturned lifeboat.
We elders watch and wait
to continue our journey within
such abundant grace.

Elizabeth’s Roses


Thousands of blushing faces                        
smile down at us from their trellises,
sharing their hues and scents
with our eager faces like satisfied virgins.
In their prim and formal beds,

cherished flowers, the pick of the lot,
have donned their prettiest negligées,
to please the most critical.
Their diet: purified water and
food for their roots. No weeds allowed.

But oh their wild sisters        
on the other side of the fence                                   
grow free, untrellised, untrammeled:
poppies, corn flowers, lupine, cosmos . . .

The faces these wild sisters
lift to the sun in its passage across the sky
don’t ask for coddling,
drink plain water from above, no sweets.
Their beds are mussed-up meadow grass.

Summer Solstice


This last night of waxing
before the solstice,
when all is possibility increasing –

this night,
the ultimate day in night,
a Pentecost of bird song,
a gathering of voices in chorus
of praise for the one everlasting day.

They don’t sleep this night,
but talk to each other drowsily
like friends on a sleepover
in love with the freedom
of this night.

The night breeze wafts
exotic hints of honeysuckle,
fresh cut grasses,
lavender –

This night before that June day.

The Order of Things


The northern jet stream
displaces warm westerlies,               
the sun rises red in the southeast,
and the senses are aroused
on this eve of solstice.                                                                      
Urgency compels us out
to sniff the fields,
the piney wood . . .

Now sky lowers,
day pulls up
its blanket of night,
birds peep sleepily
from their bittersweet thickets.

We see the pale moon rise,
the hush of winter arrive,
feel once more
our place in the order of things.