Katrina Roberts


— after Message from the Gyre, Chris Jordan

I flip through a stack of photographs, one more colorful than the next – the belly of each albatross chick a beautiful jumble: turquoise and yellow shards, the bright white of bottle caps, fluorescent magenta of someone’s discarded toothbrush, peach of a tampon tube, royal blue lighter — nested within cages of shattered rib, twisted yards of knotted green string, shreds of translucent plastic sheeting, all so far from any land I’ve walked (2000 miles from the nearest continent out in the middle of the North Pacific), yet evidence in waste of my human presence; when I leave my children hungry for attention and drive myself to the ER a random Wednesday evening because I can’t take a full breath for pains in my chest – I picture this: blown open bodies, crevices of unexpected debris, feathers splayed and matted, the elegant curve of bill, silent and still against pebbly sand… and can’t even say it to myself: I was trying in my frenzy to feed you; please forgive me and remember my love.

“Midway Atoll” is from Underdog, University of Washington Press, 2011.


Katrina Roberts is the Mina Schwabacher Professor in English and the Humanities  at Whitman College. She is author of Friendly Fire, Winner of the Idaho Prize in Poetry; How Late Desire Looks, which won the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize; and The Quick, an early volume in the Pacific Northwest Series. Her most recent collection is Underdog (University of Washington Press, 2011). Her work appears in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Best American Poetry, and The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets, among other anthologies. She and her husband, Jeremy Barker, an artist and distiller native to Walla Walla, are the proprietors of and winemakers for Tytonidae Cellars, which they started in 2003, as well as founders of the Walla Walla Distilling Company. They can generally find their three small children playing with barn cats in the good dirt somewhere not far from the vineyard.

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