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
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.