Katherine Riegel

Mind Like the Sky


I’m looking for the flash point

of the mind, where my thoughts’

vapor ignites and burns away—

just for a moment—so I can find

peace. It lasts that briefly, flame-

like and cleansing, and sometimes

an hour of stillness does not bring it,


like six hours of driving barely

brings me home, or at least back

to where home once was, in the middle

of the middle of the country, far

from cities and flat as hell,

according to my father, who grew up

in the hills of Pennsylvania


and was the first person to introduce

me to meditation. I drove those hours

monthly when my sister was sick,

chewing gum and drinking

iced tea to stay awake, still resisting

the machine to help me breathe

when I was asleep, so ugly


and unromantic. My sister dying

surrounded by the cornfields

didn’t blowtorch my monkey mind

though it was winter and loss bit

cold at my fingers. During her illness

it was all jumbled blocks of time

and worry and text messages


between those of us who loved her.

She never wrote a will. She never

talked about her death. Sometimes

she was the most enlightened person

I had ever met, sometimes the least.

I don’t know what I expect—

mind like a coffin, mind like the sky.



Katherine Riegel is the author of Love Songs from the End of the World, the chapbook Letters to Colin Firth, and two more books of poetry. Her work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Offing, Orion, Poets.org, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and poetry editor for Sweet Lit. Find her at katherineriegel.com.