As if She Spoke in Tongues

A book of contemporary poetry by Western North Carolina author Kim Hayes, with illustrations by Rachael Thomas


“She wrote down words, hundreds of thousands of words, peppering the pages with her thoughts, her revelations, her fears, her joys. And for as long as she kept them to herself, they were one language. Her language. It was only when she gave them up, like babies for adoption, that they slipped from her grasp and became subject to interpretation. She grieved for them, but also, she marveled at the unexpected ambiguity. No translation was the same. No understanding was universal. The language of her words unfolded into all languages, all understandings, as if she spoke in tongues.”
— Kim Hayes, from the “Author’s Note”

"Golden-Winged Warblers" painting by Rachael Thomas, 2023. Watercolor ink on paper

From that wordless place deep in her, Kim Hayes conjures the right words to create poems that translate welcome, wonder and wisdom for our hearing. All her poems, in a vast range of topics and emotions—from “knowing a (family) storm is brewing,” to “a blown apart heart,” from the wondrous things to be learned from trees about living where we have been planted to the love posited in “press my cold heart/in the warm palm of your open hand” and “Love Letter to Custer” in the historically accurate per sona of Custer’s wife—speak to our shared lives and make them better. Kim’s tightly crafted poems emerge from the depths of a bold heart and a steady mind to open new vistas of understanding, beauty and truth.
– Bill Petz, poetry instructor, writer, mentor and friend

“This book is a treasure chest. The poet explores spirituality and religion, the cosmos, nature, personal history and so much more with deep feeling and integrity. Each poem is a precious gem, carefully cut and polished.”
– Carol Booth, poet, friend and tireless advocate

Poetry is a gardening trowel that enables us to push aside the top layer of shallow consciousness and reach down into ourselves, to retrieve our best and worst memories, to unearth feelings that we’ve tucked away for safe-keeping or self-protection. Kim’s poetry lets the reader do that.
– Sylvia Sweeney (excerpt from the “Foreword”)

Grateful Steps Publishing House is pleased to announce the arrival of As if She Spoke in Tongues, a new book of poetry by Western North Carolina author Kim Hayes. The book represents a collaboration between poet mother and illustrator daughter, resulting in a unique and sometimes startling blend of creative perspectives. In this book, a lifetime of experience, observation, and subsequent curiosities have inspired the author’s poetry. “Sharing this experience with my daughter, Rachael, has added even more layers of interpretation,” she says. “What I craft with words, Rachael has envisioned on canvas.”

"The Scapegoat" painting by Rachael Thomas, watercolor on paper, 2023.

The Scapegoat

"Tomboy" painting by Rachael Thomas, watercolor and gouache on paper, 2023.


"Mother and Child" painting by Rachael Thomas, watercolor on paper, 2023.

Don’t Eat the Oleander

A photo of author Kim Hayes

Kim Hayes began writing poetry as a teenager. Following graduation from Florida State University, she moved to the western North Carolina mountains to pursue her writing dreams. Many rejection slips later, with funds running low, she resorted to writing that would pay the bills. In a career spanning decades, she wrote for radio, newspaper, ad agencies, financial institutions, a religious conference center and more, with poetry always waiting patiently on the sidelines. Today, thanks to the encouragement of family and friends, poetry has been rediscovered.

Her first book, Leap, was curated and published by a dear friend, Carol Booth. Kim has also contributed a collection of poems to a book of Lenten meditations, Winged with Longing for Better Things, by The Rev. Sylvia Sweeney. Kim’s newest book, As If She Spoke in Tongues, is done in joyful collaboration with her daughter and illustrator, Rachael Thomas.

A photo of illustrator Rachael Thomas

Rachael Thomas grew up in the mountains of Southern Appalachia, where she nurtured a fascination with the natural world. Today, she expresses this lifelong love of all things flying, crawling, swimming and growing in her art.

After graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Rachael began a career in journalism, creating illustrations for in-depth news stories, designing layouts and graphics for news websites, and editing digital content. Her illustrations have appeared in USA Today and more than a dozen newspapers and online publications in Florida, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Rachael’s work in As if She Spoke in Tongues is the cherished result of a multi-year creative effort with her mother, Kim Hayes.


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"Orb Weaver" painting by Rachael Thomas, watercolor and gouache on paper, 2023.
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