Ordinary Grief

Katrina K Guarascio

“How does one commemorate the ordinary?”
~Sherman Alexie
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

flowers are a start
even if they are cut
even if they
too
will die

after all
we do not want our grief
to outlast its usefulness
the way trinkets and mementos
so often do

grief will outlast
the flowers

but they will serve as
a reminder
the cycle continues
there is always
something changing
in our hearts

from decay
a newness can arise
with love
forgiveness
passing of time

shells soften
by the turn of tides
diamonds eventually
crumble to sand

grief shouldn’t
last forever

take time
commemorate this grief
this ordinary
this everyday
but don’t ask it to remain

like the most resilient of roses
grief too will shed its pedals
and lose its glamour

grief will return to earth

it will erode like fallen leafs
like skin and bones
like love
and
in time
it will be forgotten

“Ordinary Grief” is previously published in Anti-Heroin Chic, December 2018.

Seven of Them

Katrina K Guarascio

‎”…all kisses are metaphors decipherable by allocations of time, circumstance, and understanding…”
~Saul Williams

I

It is not
the first time
a man pressed
lips boldly
against the back
of my hand,
but that quick act,
from a brass jaw
accompanied by
crystal gaze,
caused a blush
from inside out
painting the pink
of vulnerability.

II

On our wedding day,
he took his time,
knowing he had forever.
It wasn’t the kiss
I blew when I rushed
out the door,
or the one he stole when
the late hours
of night crept in.
He could start slow,
lips together before parting,
desire restrained
before release.
It was his hand
on waist,
the curve of fingers
in-between his own.
Not a grip,
but an interweave,
gentle as the
rain leaking from the roof
after the storm.

III

Sitting on the bed
in your hotel room,
you worked all night
to get me there
alone.
I worked all
night to let you.
Safe from peering eyes
with the conversation
drying on our tongues,
you ask,
with the respect of a prayer
for a kiss.
It was a question
I answered hours ago.

IV

Her lips,
the petals of daffodils,
we lacked the grace
of age’s implication
and fumbled foolish,
like children
underwater.

V

I feel the rash
on my face,
a blossom of red where
beard rubbed
sensitive chin
and cheeks.
I imagine my appearance,
like a child eating pie
with hands tied behind back,
cherry filling smeared
left and right.
This is how you reflect
upon my skin.

VI

He thinks she doesn’t
know he’s there,
but she feels
his presence
in the doorway.
She stands
her back to him,
not acknowledging
his stare
as she slips
clothes to floor.
She pretends not
to notice his approach,
until his hand
finds its space upon
bare hip and his
lips caress the
tender top of spine,
she closes her
eyes and exhales.

VII

Part of me knows
it is the last.
It’s why I take
my time,
hovering lips
beside yours,
breathing in your air,
an exchange of vows
or last rites.

 

“Seven of Them” is previously published in Rabbits for Luck (2016).

Shed

Katrina K Guarascio

When I shaved
the skin bloody
on each part of

my body you
ever touched
and the flakes

of dead cells
accumulated,

gathering upon
each other with
the stroke of
worn green towel,

leaving skin
raw and rough,

tender red but
still intact,

that is when
I knew

only time would
shed you.

“Shed” is previously published in To Anyone Who Has Ever Loved a Writer (2014).

Her Absence

Katrina K Guarascio

I do not regret the days
I spent loving you in her absence.

I do not regret
your tempered touches
as you searched for her skin
under my scales

or the way your eyes reflected
her sharp chin and freckled chest
when they fell on my frame.

I do not regret
the fleeting space we created,
morning gestures
in the folds of sheet and flesh.

Tending your wounds
with tongue and time.

You found solace
with your elbows on my table,
your dirty feet in my bed,
but I knew you would exit
on your own side to look
out the south facing window.

She was ever present
upon the waves of your thoughts.

Your ears keen for her voice,
but I heard it first,
soft as the buzz of bumble bees on the beach
calling you home.

I do not regret
returning to a solitary balcony
above the ocean’s turning point,
or slipping inside my bed,
still warm in your place.

As you kiss my hands
in gratitude of my hospitality,
my kindness,

don’t leave thinking,
I am emptied.

I gave what I wanted,
no more,
no less.

“Her Absence” is previously published in the collection, my verse…, published by Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC in 2012 and Vox Poetica in 2011.

My Mother

Katrina K Guarascio

my mother once told me

through the smoky air of our living room
after a long drag and a long drink

the women in our family have been
known to bring out the worst in men

drink
drag

but there was never one of them
that didn’t regret we were gone

she leaned back and looked at me
took a drag
sort of winked

I think it’s the brown eyes

“my mother” is previously published in the collection, my verse…, published by Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC in 2012 and several other literary magazines from 20 years ago. It is my most published poem.

Solstice

Katrina K Guarascio

You are not the only one
who crawls out at night

to slip to the far side yard
and sit beneath
the hanging wisteria
to eavesdrop on the stars.

I see you there.

Bare arms against
laced sleep shirt,
reflecting drops of silver
dribbled by night sky.

You roam
through the dim,
clicking cloven hooves,
thinking you are the only girl
the moon calls

until your eyes fall to mine.

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

Hunger

Katrina K Guarascio

 

In the days of hunger strikes
and promises made too easily,
I wanted the simplicity of touch
and your chest to support my fears.

It’s been years since I scraped feet
against white sheets and,
standing separate,

we attempted to rebuild empires
weathered to rubble.

But crawling belly to concrete
only left fresh scratches that spit
slivers of blood striping our shirts.

In the days of ice and cannibal,
you kept me from shivering
as the tips of my fingers
turned black with bite.

You kissed the armor of elbow,
knowing it would never be enough
but just the same,

it was the tenderness you knew,
and I was gracious.

There wasn’t enough strength in grasp
to pull from gravel.
Not enough resilience in blood
to let scratches scab.
You left me weak and broken.

I learned then
the itch under my skin
could not be scratched
by the eager fingers of men.

The most distinct lifelines transform when
left to swell and wrinkle in hot water.

I never wanted to be
unrecognizable to touch
even as time turned copper to rust.

In the days of sprinkled streets
and pocket watches,
I grew before you.

Less a weed
more an orchard of oranges,
ripening under your gaze.

You wanted me then
and the promise of war
kept body alive.

We slid easily,
eager for regression.
We broke twigs and tricks
as if our feet were only made to slip.
As if the inevitable
was petroglyphed on our bedroom walls.
We were made to feed.

It was never a question
how we became savage.

“Hunger” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014) by Swimming with Elephants Publications, The Legendary Issue 39,  and ConnotationPress.com 2013.

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).