Alice

Katrina K Guarascio

little girl
with the
blue dress
acts sad
as she
prances around
the yard

pretending fish
tell tales
and looking-glasses
hold more
than reflections

she stopped
eating
the pink
frosted cookies
when she
found out
they were
the reason
she got
so big

she stopped
digging in
the backyard
after she
realized all
the rabbits
fled their holes

she wishes
her imagination
would take
hold of
her again

instead of
teasing her
with glimpses
into what
might be

if only
she could
fall asleep
a second time

“Alice” is previously published in A Scattering of Imperfection (2009) and More Fire than Sun (2008).

2 things

Katrina K Guarascio

there are
2 things

i
now know
for certain:

i loved
you with
every beat
of my self

&

it did
not matter

 

“2 things” is previously published in Rabbits for Luck (2016).

Sun

Katrina K Guarascio

Your world is
absent of light.
Dust reflected in
rare brightness only to
disappear behind
western vista.

Enveloped in gloom,
you watch from thick shadows
the world succumbing to the dim,
you fade
in the dusk.

If I promise
to follow you
into the night,
take your path
away from the sun
and wrap myself
in your darkness,

will you sit with me,
fingers interlaced with my own,
and watch the sun rise?

“Sun” is previously published in They Don’t Make Memories Like That Anymore (2011).

Orchard

Katrina K Guarascio

I’ve passed this place
a thousand times,
but this is the first
I’ve bothered to pluck
fruit from tree and
allow it to squeeze in
my palm. I swat flies
from eyes. They have
a tendency to hover here;
eager for sweetness, they
block my view, twist sight
into kaleidoscope. I have
spent my life resisting
the sugar that sticks between
tiny hairs which litter
my thighs; but now, I
am learning how to cover
my tracks. To slip secret
through yard and wet my lips
on the ripe. I have never
been one for proper manners.
I wade into orchard,
follow the sound of the
records your mother spins
from house. Wail along
to the deep voice which
balloons through the trees.
No one feels hunger in
quite the same way.

“Orchard” is previously published in Chasing Rabbits (2014).

There’s a Girl

Katrina K Guarascio

There’s a girl
at the Route 66 gas station
asking for change.

You don’t have any,
but you offer to buy
her a soda on your credit card
as you pay for a pack of cigarettes
and a cup of coffee.

She is grateful,
says that’s all she really needs.

She’s with her mother,
a tired, silent woman,
grey hair greased to scalp,
sitting on the curb out front.
The old woman never speaks.

This girl has tattoos on her neck,
one by her eye.
Amateur ink scribbled
by shaking hands.

She’s thanks you again,
says she has make up to sell,
nose rings,
other small snatchable items
that seep out of her pocket.

You listen,
you refuse.

She won’t let you leave till you
take a bottle of nail polish
in gratitude.
It’s a color you will never wear.

You know her,
this girl,
with the too thin limbs
and chapped lips.

You almost were her
once.
Asking for change,
grateful for just a kind reply.

You still feel ashamed
for all you had,
that you let slip away.

She asks for a ride.
You lie and say you’re going the other way.
She nods, smiles,
knows where your line sticks.
Your eyes reflect each other
as both recognized the person
you could have become.

“There’s a Girl” is previously published in Chasing Rabbits (2014).

Collapse

Katrina K Guarascio

I had a poem
on my tongue
when I closed
my eyes.

It was stolen
by sleep.

A tiny collapse
of dreams
and empires,
only grand
because of its
destruction.

“Collapse” is previously published in Rabbit for Luck (2016).

Broken Dolls

Katrina K Guarascio

We are
porcelain dolls
cracked on
floorboards.

White socks
and red ribbons.
Marble eyes
vacantly
comprehending
how we
ended up in pieces
on linoleum.

Arms distort
unable to grasp,
legs contort
unless beneath us.
Curls fall from clips,
rusty coal around
your pale skin.
Plum lip color smears
out of the lines
of your careful grin.

We lean against oven
wondering if we
will ever be
able to walk again,
and theorizing
why good
parties always end
on the kitchen floor.

“Broken Dolls” is previously published in A Scattering of Imperfections (2009).

Scars

Katrina K Guarascio

One of my students asks me if I used to cut myself.

This is not a usual conversation, but then we do not have a usual relationship. She thinks I saved her life.

I tell her, I did, sometimes, but more often I would muff cigarettes out on my thighs.

She didn’t know I smoked.

“For fifteen years,” I tell her. “But I haven’t done it for over three years now.”

The cigarettes or the burning?

I smile at her. She decides on the answer herself. She’s a smart girl.

You must have started young.

I nod and look at the bracelets covering her wrists. Her long sleeves in the spring time. I wish I had a cigarette now, wish I knew what to say, or what answers would help this girl. There is no manual, no instruction, no class, to truly prepare a teacher for the reality of human connection.

Did they scar?

“I have a few.” I hike up my skirt a bit and show her a constellation of circular scars across my right thigh. “They are all pretty faded,” I assure her.

She nods as I lower my skirt. She is silent.

“Yours will fade too,” I say. I never had a conversation like this before. It is terrifyingly honest. I never had the guts to ask anyone the questions she asks me, but I am so familiar with the look in her eye, with the stutter in her throat, the way she seems to shiver through her skin.

“They will heal. In years, people won’t see them. There are creams to reduce the scarring.”

She asks me what kind and I scrawl a few names on a list for her. She glances at it and shoves it in her pocket.

“Alice,” I say. “I don’t do it anymore.”

I know. She gives me her signature shy smile. I don’t either.

She gives me a hug. She seems like a girl who doesn’t receive a lot of hugs.

I’ll see you tomorrow.

I smile at her although I recognize sadness behind her eyes. I feel empathy swelling behind my own. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She ducks her head, offers a half wave, and slips out the door.

I lean back at my desk, let a hand linger over the scars on upper thigh. I can’t remember the last time I wanted a cigarette so bad.

“Scars” is previously published in Electric Monarch Monthly (2016).