Lighthouse

Katrina Kaye

Every blink
of your eyes

is a sunrise at sixteen,
when you told me

you loved me
and we watched the

sun eat the black.
Fifteen years later

you cling to me,
and I let you.

With each kiss
I promise

safe harbor,
with each touch

I seek to steer
your path.

I am
no beacon.

I am easily lost
to the night,

unable to guide
ships led astray.

My hands cannot
retain heat,

cannot heal or
offer cure from pain.

Yet, there is
a light in me

that still hopes I can
lead you home.

“Lighthouse” is previously published in Saturday’s Sirens (2021).

Highway

Katrina Kaye

Off the highway,
two miles outside of town,
the wind beckons
using a name  murmured by strangers.
It writes letters onto the skin of left hand
using an ex lover’s script
and gently presses right foot to pedal.

Open to the sky yet held earthbound,
vulnerable to asphalt and yellow lines,
entangled in turnpikes and exit signs.

Every unanswered desire
is painted inside rear view mirror,
a reminder of the path fate
once predicted, now left behind.

Between the pavement and the stars,
the road speaks violins and lifetimes,
ribbons and balloons freedom and possibilities,
the most gentle of gifts.

On this road two miles out of town,
a longing is conceived,
attached to every rib in cage,
to travel farther, to blister bare feet
with the miles trampled upon.

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

water rises

Katrina Kaye

Sometimes
water rises

levees break
floods erupt

sometimes
it’s slow

invisible to the eye
yet
apparent

sloshing up your legs
sagging a run into
a slow motion walk

waist deep

shoulder
neck
just above the break

sometimes
we drown

the smallest puddles
a missed birthday
forgotten pill
ringing telephone

sometimes oceans
alienation, heartbreak, childhood, morality, mortality
rip through

consume
enclose

crush

leaves us clinging like seaweed
still on the vein

sometimes water rises

sometimes it’s easier
to stand still
and let the water
rise

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

Your Chosen Tree

Katrina Kaye

This body is the tall laurel stretched skyward.

These arms flail wildly,
always reaching too far,

serve better as branches to break
the sun from stony earth,
and streak light across your face.

This hair,
the blending of so many leaves

hide spine in the form of autumn,
fall in phases of the year,

change yellow to orange
to brown to dirt.

I cannot be your lover despite clever disguise,
and I am too old to be a flowered bride,
whose petals you stroke and
call your lovely.

Let me be your tree.

I stand well on my own knotted knees,
my posture firm against the winking of eons.

Balance your feet
on my
rigid roots,

stare at my silhouette
blackened against setting sun,
touch battered bark with tentative stroke.

My weathered skin
remembers past affections,
the words carved
into trunk remain there still.

And when I am no longer picturesque
and you no longer call me darling,
I will still hold
memory
in my gathering rings
and sprout blossoms of fruit
to scatter
around you.

When you come,
I’ll be where you left me,
happy to shade your head.

Take this token in place of me.
Be contented to wood and debris,
and regret not
your foolish play with bows and arrows.

“Your Chosen Tree” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).

Time

Katrina Kaye

He says
he will make
time for me,

as if time is
a tangible thing
that can be woven
among baby’s breath,
wrapped in shiny
paper and ribbon,
and gifted at
front door.

As if time is
a silver necklace
with a knot in its chain,
a string of
green yarn
knit into
favorite sweater.

As if time can
be folded
like an origami acrobat
and added to
ornaments on mantle.

As though you
can conceive time
as easily as opening
passenger door
or buying the next round.

So do it, Darlin’
make time for me.

Create it from
your hands,
like a dove
under your sleeve.

Give me Sunday mornings
warm in your bed,
lingering coffee cups.

Lend me late night confessions
without worry for sleep
and kitchen floor tangos
where no time ticks.

Grant me the chance
to hold on to time
like you held on to my body,
fully with both
arms securely wrapped.

Gift me yesterdays
that slipped sly past.

Allow me to
stroke time slow,
savor its flavor,

leave time malleable
so I can fold into it,
stretch it like pink bubble gum
between the place we met
and the night we end,

mold time like red clay
against the distances I ran
and the sunrise I slept through.

I want to see time
instead of missing it.
I want to put a name to it
instead of a vacant hole
in my stomach.

Make time for me.
Weave it thread by thread,
quilt it into blue blanket
larger than just
the cover of my body,

so there is room
for you beside me.

“Time” is previously published in Flare (2019).

Hestia

Katrina Kaye

He leaves a quarter on bed sheets
and say thanks for the Sunday schooling.
She has always preferred curling ears around his tales
to using fingers and tongue to spin her own.

Her hand presses to vacant mattress
searching for remnants of warmth.
He has taken all of summer with him
and despite suggestions she trims her hair
instead of allowing him to weave inside and drag her off.

Solemnity settles in the back of throat.
She spreads her pavement over feet,
solidifying stump to floorboards.

This is her home.

Fastened to this place in patient stubbornness,
she turns lonely as the seasons
pop their joints and reposition their wrists.
The quickening of wind,
slap of branch to window,
yelp of swinging gate,
a collection of relics resembling the way
his legs dart and dash.

There is still a pulse fluttering in neck
that wishes his return.
A chip of bone in inner ear
listening for his knock on the door.
But not all bricks form paths paved in gold,
not everyone is looking to find their way home.

She sinks stagnate,
settled and sliced,
a dissection,
opened up for him to take all he needs,
and leave the rest on beaten trail
to sulk to seeds.

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

Cover of Flowers

Katrina Kaye

Dismal songs disguise
a world hidden by flowers.
Sun drops fall around
tall plant life made
of candy blue and
sweetheart red,
which shade children
playing in trees.

As gentle men take
off their hats,
small women grow
to face them,
eye to eye.

Nothing is real
until it can be touched;
nothing truly exists
until it is actualized.

If we left now,
it would be too soon,
so sit here
in the shadow of
daisies and wildflowers
and let the day pass.
Let time fall on and on
protected within
the cover of flowers.

“Cover of Flowers” is previously published in A Scattering of Imperfections (2009).

Cage

Katrina Kaye

I will not cage
the bluebird you think
you are.

I will not follow
feathers to find
the path of your flight.

I do not seek ownership.

I leave food out
in the September night;

it doesn’t matter if
it remains untouched in the morning;
it doesn’t matter if
it is devoured.

“Cage” is previously published in September (2014).

Ever After

Katrina Kaye

A lighthouse does not shine every day,
only when the fog is thick
and the storm is rough;

once the waves subside, it returns
dormant and dark.

I regret not having this knowledge
the night you stumbled upon my shore.

I realize now how one can leave their home,
yet always keep it with them.
I have learned one can fall madly in love,
yet still keep precious places sacred
for those most dear.

We have become only each other,
like children before the war,
offering momentary reprieve,
then release. The remembrance of a precious home
created in the cup of childhood.

This is how it was suppose to be.
We were not molded for the
hardship of daily existence,
we were created for relief,
for a relapse of innocence,
the comfort of old friends and first loves.

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

Cahir

Katrina Kaye

They said it was
impregnable, but
we wandered in.
They left the portcullis raised
and cannon balls protruding.
We shuffled past
musket holes
and bow slits,
through the village,
towards the inner ward,
and into the keep.

We passed over with
an invader’s freedom.
We crept through it all,
sneaking into every crack,
like rats,
or lice.

We danced in the Great Hall
and raced to the top of the fortress walls.
From there we could see the
door they used to escape
when the siege broke and
the fires caught hold.

We passed the slick stones
and low ceilings of the jail.
Then crept up the narrow stairs
to the top of the tower.

We watched the Suir pushing around us.
We named a herring
that fished up stream
and for a moment
this was our world.

Then, like so many before us,
we were gone.

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