10 Things I Never Told You Because I Knew Better

Katrina Kaye

1) You hurt me.
Perhaps it was pride
or a small bruise on
left ventricle, but
sometimes when I take
a deep breath, I still
feel the sting.

2) I never believed
the stories your sold
to my patient ear. I
only heard the harsh
words and the criticism
you spat at my face.
Those are the only words
I really remember.

3) I liked the way
you kissed my forehead
when I rested beside you.

4) You reputation proceeded
you. It was my own faulty
wiring that placed my hand
on your door. I always knew
what I would find.

5) The first time we had
sex was awkward and disappointing.

6) The second time we had
sex, you said I made you
anxious which is why you went
flaccid to my touch. I don’t
know if you lied
for my pride or yours.

7) It was wrong the way
you lead me to believe
you genuinely cared for me.

8) Even to this day,
I still like when you
smile at me. Despite it
all, I smile back.

9) Even if we did exist
in some alternate universe,
we would never fit together.

10) I forgive you.
I forgive myself.

“10 Things I Never Told You Because I Knew Better” is previously published in Rabbits for Luck (2016).

Upon Waking

Katrina Kaye

I slide into hot
afternoon, the heat
slipping between us,
your lips devouring mine,
bodies distorting
against one another.

Perhaps it was just sex.

An outburst
of frustration and
pent up aggression,
of teeth and tongues,
cock and cunt,
quiver and croon,
a moan of name
under a roar
of profanities as
I let myself cum
again and again
all over you.

Perhaps it signified
nothing.

This morning
I wake alone,
but there was a
moment between
then and now where
you held me
as my naked body
shivered in the
cast of the afternoon
sun, sweat drying
on navel, your arm
supporting the nape
of my neck.

There is a
piece of me,
a shard,
thin and silver,
precious and frail,
I left behind

and allowed
you to keep.

“Upon Waking” is previously published in the collection, my verse…, published by Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC in 2012.

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On the Third Day

Katrina Kaye

I let myself bleed and
smeared derangements
over upturned lips,
but you loved me anyway.

Hard,

with a fist and a curse word,
taking no tenderness with this tear,
paying no attention to fresh stitches.

You murked in my puddles
as if you were used to the rain.

As if it was nothing new to wipe
fresh red from blue vein.

You didn’t let me sleep.

You were up before dawn
trying me on like a new shirt,
seeing how I stretched around you.

Thin skin over muscle and bone.

How pretty this human suit looks
when it is crumbled on the floor,
never given a moment to bend
into my own shape,
easier to just twist around you in the dark.

On the third day
you left me for dead,
dragged my body to your favorite roadside diner
propped me up in a shallow booth,
adjusted my arms and face
as though they still beat blood
paid for runny eggs and burnt toast.
Your treat;
your turn.

These sleeves were just long enough
to cover the bruises on my wrists,
this hair just straight enough
to hide the bags under my eyes.

You took a moment to smooth my lipstick,
with a tender thumb.

“On the Third Day” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014) by Swimming with Elephants Publications and The Legendary Issue 39.

Scars

Katrina Kaye

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).