Cut Away

Katrina Kaye

My aunt’s breasts did not murder her.
But they fell,                     one by one,
overripe fruit.
I remember she said
once they were gone,
she didn’t feel much like a woman
anymore.

After the first surgery
she showed us her stitched skin.
The higher part bronzed from summer sun,
roughly stapled to once upper abdominal white.

She had no nipples.
It was a graceless realization.
She would eventually have picturesque replicas tattooed on.
Eventually implants would replace the smooth boy chest.
Desperate to become woman again.

It was the curve of my mother’s hips
that lead to her betrayal.
A wanton child nestled in uterus waiting
impatiently to spread,
to creep into belly,
to stretch into tubes and ovary,
submerge in blood.

Sound waves revealed a tumor
embedded in endometrial lining.
I recall the subtle understanding:
sonograms are not just for spying
unborn children.

The surgeons left a scar from belly button downward
where womb was pulled from body.
Similar to a caesarian incision,
only deeper.

These parts,
breast, uterus,
methodically removed,
the woman cut from our beings.
Never knowing how much
they would be missed
until they were gone.

What offense deemed us unworthy
of these precious female features?
The landscape, gifted without asking,
now taken despite pleas.
This anatomy that defined us women,
what is left when it is gone?

Was it the deep throaty
voice of my aunt that frightened
the feminine away?

Were my mother’s hands
too masculine to hold a
womb any longer?

Will I pay for the sins
of a barren belly and one
too many late nights
matching pints with the boys by having
the female raped from my body
with cold scalpel and surgical staples?

The women of my family
are blessed with beautiful breasts,
curved hips, and a predisposition of cancer.

We women of shared blood,
of mirrored images and reflective habits,
who can’t quite quit cigarettes,
who have a weakness for men who drink too much,
who are so giving of our time,
our lives, our flesh,
we still miss these parts that are cut away.

“Cut Away” was previously published in Treehouse Arts in January, 2019.

Explore Treehouse Arts here.

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.