The Nest

Katrina Kaye

Her eyes are open.
A thin trail of blood leaks from parted mouth.
Pink dress, brown flowers,
hiked around thighs.

She,
curled on her side,
an imprint on soft grass.
One brown sandal clings to limp right foot,
the left, scratched and black bottomed.
She did run,
she did.

He cut the ice from her ears,
severed flesh of ring finger for special jewel
she would have willingly given.

Hand outstretched,
fingers curled,
nails chipped, split.
The other wrapped around belly,
hiding spliced skin.
Blood pools around body
an exposed secret.

A bird, fallen from nest
crushed underfoot.
Broken wings flailed in vain
bead black eyes screaming
louder than her voice ever could.

The nest couldn’t hold her.
Tender fluff of undeveloped feathers,
twisted neck and curled claws.

She lay still,
cicadas buzz in nearby trees.
The temperature is seventy-two.
Sun shines down on yellowing skin,
as a slight breeze brushes strands of hair
from the red slits which once held white stone.

“The Nest” is previously published in The Legendary (2013).

Bricklayer

Katrina Kaye

I want to be a bricklayer;
something concrete
as opposed to just impression.

I want to learn to draw hands with accuracy.
To show precision in the etch of knuckles,
shaded in darkness.
There was never enough color.

There are so many
ways to look at one thing:

a church is violet against the changing sky,
the horizon set on fire into the back fall.

September sun crests different over
the yellow fields of the east
than the dirt of the city at dawn.

I prefer to paint at night.

I sketch my father twice,
struggling to do justice to the
rashes on the tips of fingers,

but my messages do not form easy.
The images I cross out
are more vital than those kept.

Instead of laying brick,
I layer strokes of finely charred sulfur lemon
removing the bright from the dark.
Pile one on top of the other.

Inspiration turns illusive
after the initial thread is cut,
displayed, set aside.

Too much coffee and wine,
too many sleepless nights,
strung too high.
Obsessed with ideal.

It is no wonder I always staggered home alone.

Unable to abandon canvas and easel
until the obtainment of perfection.

But how many masterpieces can
one man create?

It is only a matter of time
before I slip from the wall.

A chest wound,
self-inflicted,
in a field of wheat,
like so many I painted.

Surrounded by something
I find
beautiful.

“Bricklayer” is previously published in Catching Calliope Vol 2, 2014.

Before the War

Katrina Kaye

In the holy years of childhood,
we dressed in common uniform,
but spied only on each other.
Innocent games where you hid
and I sought you out.

I woke early to creep into unkempt yard
to feel the dew from long billowing grass
across my eight year old calves
and share the silence of morning.

In the hollow nights before the air raids,
I painted your portrait
using the light of the moon
and branches from a tree
too old to climb.

I prayed on only the consistency
of your pose as you looked beyond me.

When the August sun scorched the earth
we puzzled in the cool of basements,
making pieces wedge together
if we held them just right.

You hummed me a song
about starvation
that came to you in a dream.
Using your mother’s silver spoons
and the warped lid of a tin trash can,
I beat out a hunger
to be more than just alone.

It was the summer
of our childhood,
welded in innocence
and recklessness,
before the shatter.

Before the earth quaked with
the roar of metal beasts,
shaking leaves from trees
and scattering sparrows,
frightening us to our nests.

Before the sirens
shrieked their song of anguish
and sorrow into our ears,
leaving us blind and crippled,
groping for the
touch of a kind hand.

“Before the War” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).