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Two Poems by Kathryn Collins

We All Race the Tide


After he beat you, I waited

in the dark,

listening to the wheezing

swamp cooler that he told you

he would fix. It’s muggy air silted

on my lashes and I drifted, back,


back to that day when your hands

ladled the beach onto my body.

You pressed hard to flatten my dunes

into swales, my plunging breakers into

a pillared foreshore.

I should not have told you that I loved you,

when you still didn’t understand


that the body you were building, cuddling,

photographing, was the one

I’d spend a decade building

in storm surges and abrasion; a lifetime

of attrition. Even then, you liked

your hydraulic action; you couldn’t fathom

my fascination for blowholes.


As the frothing, frantic swash uncovered

my toes, pink and poisonous in the afternoon

light, I imagined standing, sand

dissolving. The raw

stone uncovered, the foreign

sand and sediment, gone with a wave.

Maybe then you’d have sailed

into my arms, instead of his.


When you find me, blood cakes

the inside of your nose,

and we lie. It is easier

to remember the sound of surf

and gulls as our castles were pulled,

piecemeal, into the sea.



Fists Aren’t the Only Bruising Agent


Word traveled that I had an open system,

obligatory barriers forgotten

more often than not.

Word was mostly true.

My granite was barren,

wasn’t that precaution enough?


You were terra incognito, nothing

but temptation and exotic flora.

I should have known,

should have seen the invasive

species of conquest

hidden behind your welcoming shores.


You didn’t have time for my hesitation,

my slow-moving streams, tearing instead

through my dry summer shrivel

and boring down

though my hidden silt.


After, my lawyer said, “You can’t

rape a slut,” and I thought,

at least it was over.


I’d have needed proper microscopy to see

a different sort of root

shooting through my hollow veins. I lay

dormant through the long nights,

letting the snow paint my cracks

smooth again.


It was only when spring rains blew through

that residual bodies blossomed

yellow and green,

black and blue,

ripping through my firmament

to seed my world with the traces of a night

you’ve already forgotten.





Kathryn Collins poems and essays have appeared in CALYX, the Rumpus, Flyaway, Burner, and Bank Heavy Press. After a long period as an expat in Germany, Israel and Australia, she's returned home to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she writes about science fiction, fantasy, politics and the places where the three meet.


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