The corner grave
Old Cemetery, Owensville, Ohio
Rain had worn down
her name, left a few letters
and a stone leaning low
after a century of winters.
I pretended to know her: ‘Elizabeth,
wife of ______’, said good morning
every day before school,
though she’d long ago sifted
down to dust and bones
beneath the roots of our village.
I invented a tragic death,
looked for signs,
willed her to haunt me.
I imagined skeletons
with high collars
and tangled hair hiding
behind the dresses in my closet.
Halloween: I dressed in cream linen,
bobbed for apples, waited
scanned the fields for see-through
shapes on our hayride.
She didn’t show, but I still
insisted a handprint
in red paint smacked against
our shed window, was hers.
(First published at Melancholy Hyperbole, 2013, and in the author's pamphlet The names of things unseen / part of Caboodle, Prolebooks, 2015)
GMT -8 hours
The rain fell
warmer than this
when you were
my latest secret.
I only brought you
out if the moon
was in hiding;
I waited until midnight,
unclipped you from
the washing line
to drink you down with
cheap rosé wine.
you always said you
liked the way
towels felt after
a day drying in the sun:
difficult to wrap
around your body;
one part of you I loved.
(First published in the author's pamphlet The names of things unseen / part of Caboodle, Prolebooks, 2015)
said I was too old,
like four years is a lifetime,
asked me to buy him a vodka and coke,
if I was really as nice as I pretended to be,
wished more than anything that I would
punch him in the face,
chastised me for smoking, but took
a drag from my cigarette,
clapped his hands on my hips
when I was too drunk and angry to notice,
reminded me I still seethed and boiled
underneath a still life surface,
tried to knock me down a peg or two,
because I was probably used to being beautiful,
had absolutely no idea
who he was talking to,
would never say I was beautiful,
you can count on that,
showed me a girl’s number, his Friday
trophy: he didn’t need me, he could get anyone,
shouted over the road to say I better
not be watching him piss up this wall –
insisted all women were out to get him,
agreed that time is a human invention,
walked beside me in dark midwinter,
stared at his feet like a little boy,
suggested I go home with him after all, maybe
it would be alright, maybe –
hugged me once, then turned away,
slid into the night in the posh part of town,
disappeared with the taxi’s brake lights,
left us both untamed.
(First published in the author's pamphlet The names of things unseen / as part of Caboodle, Prolebooks, 2015)
To know, to will, to dare, and to keep silent
He asked if I was a witch, if he’d see
me dancing naked through the trees,
and if I’d meet him at midnight so we
could build a fire. He said I was proper
bonny, a dark faery, just what he wanted.
I said I am, though not that kind of witch,
but he was away with his own faeries—
they brought him needles, lighters, spoons.
So the boy with the clouds
in his eyes said it was fine.
I didn’t say my magic simmered slowly;
I didn’t say a spell isn’t such a quick fix.
I didn’t say that behind closed doors each
night a man searched me for devil marks,
tried to squeeze admissions from my throat,
and threw my words on a fire to warm
his ale-drunk hands, to bind me to him.
I didn’t say that even as we spoke, nettle
roots pushed down through cryptic notes
I’d planted in the garden, and I’d soon be free.
(First published at Peacock Journal, 2017 and in the author's pamphlet Losing interest in the sound of petrichor, The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018)
Nothing is forever
Now more than ever you know
summer is kissed by impermanence –
the forever of backyard heat blurred
by the running feet of a child
collecting cicada shells from tacky
sap glistening on pine bark, a cluster
of trees, a row of peony bushes
creating a labyrinth where nothing
escapes or penetrates. The insect’s
change from crawling thing to a red-
eyed flurry of wings is complete.
Tilt your face to the sky, and breathe.
(First published in the author's pamphlet Losing interest in the sound of petrichor, The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018)
Kate Garrett is the managing editor of Three Drops from a Cauldron, Picaroon Poetry, and Lonesome October Lit. She also founded the charity webzine Bonnie's Crew, raising funds for the congenital heart unit in Leeds that saved her daughter's life. Her own work is published widely online and in print, and she is the author of several pamphlets, most recently You've never seen a doomsday like it (Indigo Dreams, 2017), and Losing interest in the sound of petrichor (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018). Kate was born and raised in rural southern Ohio, but moved to the UK in 1999, where she still lives in Sheffield with her husband, five children, and a sleepy cat. www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk