The Pier

Katrina K Guarascio

You can see where the old pier
used to be, hundreds of water
warped posts standing at attention
in the shallow water. You can see

how low the tide has receded. They are
lost souls, blackened by time and hard
water, seething salt from tattered torsos.
They watch the beach as if they remembered

the feel of sand between their toes but
they have sulked too long, become one with
the rippling patterns. Strangers forever
separated by five distinctive feet.

“The Pier” is previously published in Chasing Rabbits (2012).

Lifeboat

Katrina K Guarascio

The first time
I held death
in the salt water of lung
hopeful to be pulled
on raft and have air
pressed into chest.

The second time I pushed
under the water.

I let go
knowing full well there was
no point in waiting for a
kind hand.

I will not give
the satisfaction to mourn
death or save life,

not when I can still
keep head above water.

I may have been made
a fool for carrying crosses,
but I earned them.

They keep me afloat.

These storms leave
such peace
in their wake.

“Lifeboat” is previously published in Chasing Rabbits (2012).

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).

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).

if

Katrina K Guarascio

if i curl
tight enough
in the hidden
hole between

awake and asleep

i can keep
warmth in

if i am
still and silent
in the soft
space between

night and day

i can feel
my heart beat
i can clear
my voice and
whisper my
intentions

if i stay here, 
eyes closed,
mind uninterrupted
in the comfort between

oblivion and
sensibility

i can pretend
i have not
been forgotten

i can let
time turn her
face to the sun
and close
her eyes
to the light

my loneliness
will matter

my emptiness
will be realized

this is where
i find myself
where time is
relative and
the darkness
can’t get me

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