Kathrine L. Wright


Accidentally, I don't believe we made it here
Wherever here we are
Our rocketship all creaky with woodrot
Our tiny teeth aching for calcium

We must have traveled years
to make it this far.
And honey, you still feel delicious
early gray, heading the wrong direction
I'm not sure what put us here
or how fold after fold, the map transmogrified.

I'm lost. A forest should be here, the grasses, I know it,
grew waist high around me.
Grasses you could live in for days,
whatever you were hiding from.
Is this the same strange place we left
just a couple light years ago?

What's with all the dead animals?
Who moved my sweet mucky swamp?

We were supposed to end up in a galaxy
heavy with nova, quasars dwarf stars, moons entire,
all spiraled with asters, anthereum, algae.
Instead, your lungs seem heavy with dust
my eyelids sting, carry walls of water.
I knew that exit was doomed, ignited with oil as it was

Ten minutes ago, your beauty was an exploding mist
My touch lofted your speech into noiseless space
Where colors, all of them, flashed by in parallel
We must have moved so swiftly, brightly we were invisible
Mistaken for white noise, thunder,
Though we're certain we were breaking sound,
bending time, killing fire.

There are only this many words.
We could hold them all, they wouldn't weigh twenty pounds
The vaporous words the counterweight to others
Like anti-calories, watercress, celery, watermelon.

Enough of that, honey.
Mmmm. Sip a fine cup of hot, hot, hot this:
Pretend, graphite, scooping shiver, REM, sky.
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

You remember I said yes and endless and there.
And by endless I could have meant
this frail body knows how to give
back, knows how to need what it needs.
Hope, die, lure, grow, scream, chew, release.

In theory, the oxygen you take is gifted
By some earthbound thing gifted
With what you let go. You equal.
But in the release, a body fails.
The final exhale each evening
a settling into dreams that don't exist
when we untangle ourselves in the morning.


The beauty of man lies in the force
he doesn't use; his ability to command matter
yet let it choose its own side
of the river, to let the river number
its tributaries, weave clear
its own paths, while he stands in watch.

You, with the clement hands of my watch
that turn like spokes as I gently force
their movement. Your hands quickly clear
the valleys I press you to. What matters
is this: in the Serengeti, a small number
of beasts abandon the eastern side

of the park, cross rivers, find themselves side-
struck, poison arrows lodged like ticks, watch
their own body parts flung like numbers
into stock-piles, later traded for money. Force
is natural here, and it hardly matters
that the tribesmen strip away the ivory in the clear

of the afternoon. I hold you when your words, like clear-
winged moths, eat the fruit you've given me, the sides
of your mouth quivering as you turn madder
for the kill. I say nothing, watch
the moths flit away, return in forced
landing, wings pounding the table, trying to number

The times they've taken too much. They number
what they cannot hold. In the clear
of the Savannah, animals live without the force
men play against one another, animals side
with Darwin. Young males rest together in the rain, watch
the weak with hungry eyes, would think, if they could, that matter

occupies space in the living; what matters
then, is dinner. The trick is not to number
your meals expectantly. Animals watch
one another in the moonlit grass, take clear
and clean the fairest victories this side
of the Orangi: exquisite horrific force

embraced in a matter of miles. You and I will not force
the river. The clear waters strengthen as we watch
the numbers yield: we burn for a way inside.

Kathrine L. Wright' s fiction and poetry is upcoming or has appeared in New Orleans Review, Weber Studies, La Petite Zine, Cenotaph, and What There Is: The Crossroads Anthology. She has a B.A. from the University of Utah and worked as an editorial assistant for Quarterly West. Kathrine is currently working on a novel (in novellas) entitled Back Space. A native Utahn who grew up camping among red rocks and sagebrush, she now resides near the Everglades.

Poems copyright © 2002 by Kathrine L. Wright.