Katrina Kaye

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 2013.