September – Kate Garrett




Soft waves roll like sand, sea
and close the distance

between the glow
of your skin

…………and me:
a mermaid in reverse.

I’ve been a little girl
with awkward feet
who swims to drown

…………until now
when you shush
salt tears with pearl teeth

when your smile
emerges from underneath
on this white
bed; tousled

like I once dreamt
a kelpie’s fur would be.


(from the author’s pamphlet The Density of Salt, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2016)





After Poetry

Every syllable spoken drifts
back to dusted talk behind us
as we walk; a single raindrop
lands in the gap of our clasped hands,
rubbed to mist between our thumbs
like the hint you placed
on the crown of my head
with your lips, a street corner sigh,
a moth’s whisper. Your kiss filtered
down through strands
of my hair, tingled there for days
though I told myself nothing
would happen. Now here we are, after dark:
I trace the shape of you in a skylight
out of body but in your arms after
reaching a point when we decide
we’ve said enough.

(from the author’s pamphlet The Density of Salt, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2016)






A change of habit

That night I found his tongue in the dark
of the greenhead tilted up towards
Jupiter’s glow in the night-burning

 silence. This discovery came after the wine,
after the retracing of steps down Devonshire Street,
the glow of the chippy lights recalling the night 

we met, and after I said his name made him sound
like a highwaymanwondered how much I
should give up, if he wanted to take it at all—

 but it was before he led me home to his stopgap
room, tipsy with each others’ scent, past voids behind
doors and the vodka snores of his housemate.

 Later, on amnesiac sheets, he etched my naked hip
with mercury and said it wasn’t every day
he was so pleased to be within kissing distance.

(first published in Rat’s Ass Review: Love & Ensuing Madness)






Love at First Sight Does Not Exist

You send messages
over infinite summer miles

from a Romanian fireside,
surprise me in this northern

garden where I watch the sunset
kaleidoscope the clouds,

kissed by leaves and breeze
divining nothing much

except of course how
love at first sight does not exist.

The phone flashes in the grass
at my feet, a sign:

I haven’t stopped
to look over my shoulder

this time, and when you need
to know why I’m unafraid, I will tell

you how the sky shifts
from second to second

even when it’s pure
and blue.


(from the author’s pamphlet The Density of Salt, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2016)





An august sacrament

 The sun lowered itself into our six o’clock
armchair, blushing cream walls to the tune
of Dionysus’s blood, your faith between
my ribs chanting thanks to God for the static
under fingernails    

 and when the same sun has gone tortoise-slow
and quiet through the ground beneath us
the breeze that didn’t blow today transforms
a moonless night into myth—a remark thrown into shape:
it’s summer, these things happen.

 I know
you would dance through
blackthorn if I asked.

You know
I try to believe
in empires, effigies.

(first published on
Melancholy Hyperbole)







People say that thing
about leopards and spots
and I wonder while I watch

the moonglow dance
between your shoulders

if freckles count
or if you’re a different beast.

My own skin shimmies
to an easy bassline
I forget to remember when we
are a hundred miles apart,

and I scrape away your touch,
want to rewind the months
and unburden our choices,

even when ukulele chords
float me back to you,
because the moment when knowing
who we are is too much.

Because tuica washed
down with malbec
is not unlike an August sunset,
not unlike splintered intuition
moving between us like a bad dj
in the pub after hours
spinning the worst songs
set in his ways.


(from the author’s pamphlet The Density of Salt, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2016)






Less like fiction

He has never cried for the others

but I held him as he wept for her,
for their years together at the close
of youth, for the aftertaste
of a love built on endings.

I’ve looked into his eyes, pink
and raw with wishing; why hadn’t he
ended their sentence less like a fiction,
less like a drama designed to be retold.

He has held me after my nightmares
where the years pass, the labyrinth
tunnels shift, when I know I’ll never
make it out of these oubliettes alive.

He has held me, aching, when words
rise up as welts on my belly, arms,
when broken bottles and blood reflect
stuttered narratives, breathed out to explain
the shaking, the dreaming.

He has never cried for the others
or the roles they played in helping
the swift move from her, to himself, to now—
midwives at a turn of the wheel when gods
and men can somehow birth themselves.

But his story isn’t mine to tell
until the day we intersect;
and his story isn’t theirs to tell,
though versions of him drift
to fill the gaps in others’ tales

even though he forgets the shape
of a hip or the taste of a kiss,
in a haze they claim to remember—
just like I know a long-gone sketch
of me became a deathbed regret
I will never try to understand.

And I’ve no use for these plot points
now, nor his tired script, nor mine—
the new summer wakes through a slanted
window, warm on my closed eyes,
and I feel his brown and silver curls
still damp from the night before
across my shoulder.






They say three is the magic number

I. Vows

We sealed the cusp of winter
with wine and a kiss—our lips on the rim
of each glass purging scars; your voice
carried promises across a room in front
of your God and our friends; my tongue
traced the arc of our story: from a damp
night in June to trading silver rings
in a dying afternoon, daring the dark.

II. Prayers

It’s said All Hallows’ Eve is when
the barrier between two worlds thins out
lets all sorts through—spirits, demons, ghosts.
I’d whispered my own brand of prayer
all autumn long: she could claim her place
after the dress was worn, after dancing and relief
from the ache in my feet, after the wine flowed to a stop.

In the Samhain dark, just barely wed, we married
flesh and soul between midnight and the witching hour,
arms and legs woven together—laid out as kindling
on a bonfire bed, licking flames. 

And if dimensions met that night
beyond some lifted veil
while our bodies were inseparable—
who can say which action cast the spell?

III. Completion

November soon brought a sadness, a sickness.
Maybe it was too much drink,
maybe a bleed was on the way,
or maybe after the celebrations
we should expect this bleak comedown
under bare trees, steel clouds.

With the third week came exhaustion
and two pink lines
and I understood everything.