Touch

Katrina Kaye

I.

Though I have not
felt his hands,
I imagine them cold,
like my grandmother’s.

Paper thin skin loose
over rounded veins,
Ice to the touch,
gentle as baby powder.

II.

My hands are always cold,
an untreatable
hereditary condition.
My grandmother shared my fate,
hands turning
from white to blue,
numb until the pain
when the blood flows again.
Always cold.

III.

Their hands are misshapen.
This grayed man
with his large paws
and patient one toothed grin.

He rubs his hands
together, stoking
a fire that has long
abandoned his veins.

Her yellowed fingernails,
a mangled band aid.
It is dirty, old,
it needs to be removed,
the cut revealed.

Expose water winkled flesh.

I imagine her hands
must be warm,
like her temper,
nails sharp as her tongue.

Two lovers mixing
to a temperate balance
lasting over 68 years.

IV.

He shares
the patience and stillness.

He touches her skin,
as her hands drop.
They are gray and they are blue.
They are cold.

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

The Painter

Katrina Kaye

He wanted to be a painter.

He wanted to paint himself at sixteen,
standing tall on mountain top,
a golden warrior for the helpless,
a beast of burden ready to sacrifice
for tomorrow’s promises.
That’s how he saw himself
when he closed clouding eyes.

Always careful to refuse limitations.

He was ambivalent to skin rubbed raw,
the formation of blisters on hardened heels,
and the weight strapped upon back leaving
marks against white freckled skin.

It took finely sliced transparencies
to etch out the idea that this perception
was self imposed.

Petrified on haunches, he watched
as the reverberation between the hum
drum of reality and the fleeting images of
fancy fabrication left him weak.

The last attempt he made at reclaiming his identity
came in a self portrait:

sprawling crow’s feet and age spots,
so close to his mother’s angry mood
he doesn’t recognize the expression on lips.

A child swallowed inside rib cage
who has been screaming for years.
A man who can’t recognize
lead poisoning seeping into tongue.

He still wants to paint a portrait of life,
a portrayal of desperation and disappointment,
capture howl in brush stroke and oil base,

display the hollow of gut
in strangled sketch and charcoal dust,
portray innocence, youth, freedom
in the colors on canvas.

But the paints have dried,
hardening bristles to stone.
He is merely a man,
too tired to rekindle the
spark long ago abandoned.

He once believed he
could be something magnificent.

“The Painter” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).

Re Shape

Katrina Kaye

I disentangle
myself from
the woman
I used to be

allow her
to rest

her time
well spent
has ended

and now

I mold
with broken
finger and
roughened palms

another cast
another face

eyes and bones
and stitched lips
I do not
recognize
in the mirror

only to
shed her
in time
as well

and begin
again

“Re Shape” is previously published in Rabbits for Luck (2016).

Thank You

Katrina Kaye

Thank you

for the dance in the lightning storm;
the blowing wind that chilled summer skin
and placed my hair in your eyes.

Thank you

for meeting my gaze with kindness,
laughing at my redundant jokes, and
singing along with me to the radio.

Thank you

for learning the words to my favorite song.

Thank you

for the drink on the porch
after everyone else was gone,
for the last cigarette in your pack
and the honest conversation
long after the hour of reason
when our lips say things
our minds have long hidden.

Thank you

for the reminiscence,
for just a little while, for just one night,
of precious moments long lost
to the whirl of the wind,
while the sky’s electricity screams.

Thank you

for remembering me.

Thank you

for making me
feel as though I am still loved.

But mostly,
thank you

for releasing your grip,
for letting time and space work their magic to heal
the wounds you dug into me. Thank you
for letting me go.

“Thank You” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).