Shard

Katrina Kaye

Like glass, he shattered.

A thousand ragged pieces
slipped away from me
in the darkness.

Tiny shards of his existence
scattered into cracks and carpet,
lost until light returns
to reflect brightness into them.

But he is not waiting for the dawn,
not waiting to be put back together.
Slowly the debris settles in,
fading and returning,
like a person trying to hold on to sleep.
He stopped resisting.

And I can’t find him anymore,
not when I walk barefoot
on the kitchen floor,
not when I lie bare backed
on his Persian rug,
looking for the fragments of clear, sharp life
that once built a man.

He has been sucked up, swept up,
dug up, systematically removed.
I never imagined he’d be missed.

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

Bath water

Katrina Kaye

She turns,
belly to porcelain,
white to white.
The bath water turns cold.

She hears him playing.
The gentle rhythm
of childish laughter,
echoing down the hall.
She shivers.

Her eyes turn inward.
With slippery fingers,
she grasps the side of the tub,
and sinks under water,
but still she can hear him.

Only an apparition come
to tease a lonely woman.
She never wanted much
other than to hear the sound
of her boy’s laughter.

Her hair halos her face
in a cloud of chestnut.
Just a sliver of nose and lips,
resting on the surface.

She sips in humid air.
The laughter evaporates.
Eyes open underwater,
The world is blurred.
The sounds of childhood
faded.

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

While she sleeps,

Katrina Kaye

I watch the clouds gather
outside the bedroom window

the snow is coming

please let the snow come

the hush of the early morning
wraps itself around me
turning my breath to ghost

While she sleeps,
I make coffee
enough for both of us
but I know hers will go cold
before she wakes

when she wakes

if she wakes

I watch the sky
and pray for snow
let coffee bitter the tongue
take in the air
from my lungs

when I woke
I was colder than I have
ever been
I was talking to ghosts
that are still clinging to flesh and blood

When I woke,
I was alone so I stayed
beside her while she slept

across the room

in a blanket and chair

by the window

sipping the coffee and
watching the sky
praying for snow
hoping she wakes soon

so neither of us
will be alone

“While she sleeps,” was previously published in Saturday’s Sirens (2021).

Wine Glass

Katrina Kaye

I position
his arms around
my body
so they hold me
like you used to
when we wedged
into the twin bed
in your basement studio
all those years ago.
I needed only to have
you beside me again,
to cure the cramp
in my gut and the crackle
in my throat with the comfort
of warm body and perfect embrace.

You are gone,
so I use him.

A restless boy with too
much to prove, who has your
height but not your eyes,
who makes me laugh like you
once did and likes to watch
me when I am looking away
so close to your sideways glance.

I shatter myself into him.
Being useless in this skin,
I sought the soul beneath.

It only broke
my heart a little
when he left,
no more than a wine glass
forgotten on the floor
crushed under the klutz
of an early morning
stumble toward bath.

“Wine Glass” is previously published in September (2014).

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Badge

Katrina Kaye

I thought I
was ready for
the collision of
tooth to chest,
so I waited
for bullet
to light up sky.
I remained
patient for barrage
to shatter my
faith in you.
I apologize
for letting you gut
me in the fashion
of an animal.

I am left with a scar
dug into flesh.
A badge flashing from
right shoulder,
which you ignore
every time you
brush past.

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

The Funeral

Katrina Kaye

I know better than to wear mascara
to a funeral. I have no shame in
the tears rolling down my cheeks.
My chin remains level, eyes wide.
I brush streaks aside with open palm,
the flat of thumb. I don’t need
the comfort of cloth. I am soured by
the eyes of the saints. They hang from
wood and window trying not to show
us their wounds, yet the blood drips from
crosses over our heads. I am no longer
a child.

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

How to Love a Ghost

Katrina Kaye

Sleep in his old t-shirt
savoring the scent trapped inside thread and collar.
Mimic the sound of shutting doors
slapping goodbye.

Play a melody of afternoon thunderstorms
and chase the scent of rain
through the house.

Refuse to release what has passed
from mind and motion,
bite lower lip to keep words
from falling out.

Flick ash to pavement,
bare feet to sidewalk,
leave a trail from the rubble
that built a favorite mythology.

Find a boy at the bar with the same shade of eyes
and a smile kind enough to resurrect the past.
Sing all the words to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” in his ear
in a slow dance to last call.

Stare into eyes a little too long,
listen to stories with too much thirst for truths.

Tell him he reminds you of someone you used to know.
Show him the peaceful side of your nature,
the sleepless side of your soul.

Walk across the broken glass of beer bottles
to nudge him awake,
replace missing pages about last night
over a breakfast where you
laugh too loud to be in public,
still drunk from one another.

When he leaves
thank him for wearing the skin of memory
and gifting the kindness of patience.
Do not kiss him goodbye.

Reclaim evening habits,
curled in tattered wool sweater,
beer and cigarette,
tangled in all the parts of what once was.

Watch in solitude as the full moon creeps across the sky
and breathe in all that has come to pass.

“How to Love a Ghost” was previously published on the blog Truck : n. a self-propelled vehicle for carrying goods, by Larry Goodell.

Your Cave

Katrina Kaye

I move the stones,
one by one,
to build this place.

Dark,

yet safe and warm,
your cave forms
in my hands.

I place you there,
whisper soft words
to soothe,
tell stories
to comfort.

I know you can’t hear me,
but I hope
somehow
you understand.

I watch the fire dissolve,
and touch the ashes
with trembled fingers.

On the wall,
I draw your image

with sooted hands,

so anyone
who comes knocking
sees the face of beauty
that resides within.

I leave you there,
safe and warm and protected
inside my memory.

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

Son

Katrina Kaye

I won’t lie and say there wasn’t
relief in the coming of blood.

My mind was still unsettled
when your soul fled my body.

Birds scattering from a telephone wire.
Fast. Determined.

You were in such a hurry,
no time to wait for my resolve.

They sucked you out.
Scraped you off insides,

metal to flesh,
taking what you left.

Never knew I could feel so deserted.

Amazing how something so consuming
could be gone completely, without a trace.

Every now and again
I feel the familiar ache

inside my body,
the cramp and kick of a liberated soul.

And I wonder
who you could have been.

“Son” is previously published in The Fall of the Sparrow (2014).

Ordinary Grief

Katrina Kaye

“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.