Gone

Katrina Kaye

I’ve never been good at accepting
the wear and tear of things:

clothing

books

people.

I always thought
the longer you had something,

the more valuable it became.

It is why I am a sucker
for first editions and still
wear the jeans I’ve had

since high school.

It’s why I insist friendships

last.

I tend to hold on too long,
until there are holes in the knees and
pages are water warped and

missing, until the sun bleaches
out the newness and old toys rest
under a thick layer of dust.

Even when something breaks,

like a locket or a streak of sobriety,

when repair is no longer possible.

I kept you.

I always had a place for you:
a soft spot in the tissue

between my vertebrae.

I insisted the man I knew
was still simmering under the years
of abuse and recklessness.

Somewhere inside those tired

eyes that had seen so many

rooftops and sunrises.

We were children together.

We will always be children together.

When he described finding you:

your body

your open eyes

your arms outstretched

I could not accept you were gone.

Just like that.

You tore,

wore away,

beyond repair.

I couldn’t accept you were anything more
than that blue eyed boy who would stare
at me after I looked away.

I never thought you
would fall away like muscle from bone.

I am stubborn that way.

Even after the hang overs,

the broken dishes,

the lonely nights,

the slammed doors,

I still wanted to be your friend.

You said,

we could never just be friends

because if you were ever close enough to touch me,

you would have to kiss me and you

didn’t think you would be able to stop.

I keep that kindness.

Sometimes the only way to accept change
is when choice is taken from you.

When the house burns down

before you can collect

every memory,

granting history,

pride,

mercy,

love,

to the smoke.

“Gone” is previously published in Eclipse Lit (2022).

Not Forgotten

Katrina Kaye

I.

You were 32 years old,
our mother, not forgotten.

There is no
beloved wife or
darling daughter
to aid in your
description.

At 32 how many
children did you
have? how many
remain clung
to that engraving,

that final epitaph,
not forgotten?

II.

I have forgotten
the way my mother
taught me
to make tortillas,
but I still remember
her stories in
broken English.
The one about
the earthquake
that shook the roof
onto her bed
and the little dog
she had as a girl.

I have forgotten
my father’s
best jokes
but I still remember
the blue of his eyes
and catch his
scent on rainy days
that remind me
of California.

III.

Gracie,
do your children
still see pieces
of you in their
reflections?

Do your children’s
children come here
to sit at your memory
and rehash your stories?

You died eleven years
before my mother’s birth,
my father would
have been five.

I am a year older
than you ever reached,
but the word mother
remains a foreign language
tangled in my throat.

An unmarred womb
I refuse to forfeit.

IV.

If I died today,
what would they
engrave on my stone?

How soon
would I be
forgotten?

“Not Forgotten” is previously published in You Might Need to Hear This (2021).

Disappear

Katrina Kaye

I am disappearing
act, mispronounced
name, forgotten
introduction.

I walk soft,
sew lips.

Unsubstantial
as the chill
in the dark.

Part ghost,
part chameleon.

I wish
I could
say there was
security in
the anonymity,

it merely
leaves me
hollow and creates
a blotch
only I can see.

Don’t try
to look
for me.

I blend
into background,
then disappear
as quickly
as a song

you never
bothered
to remember.

“Disappear” is previously published in Mollyhouse (2022).