Ode to a Parallel Universe in Which We Are Animated by Centripetal Force
Once, seeking something to capture you,
I bowed my head at the feet of a priestess
wearing all blue in a desert. Her robe, flowing,
milky horizon. Melding with milky horizon.
I asked for a snare and she handed a vial. I wore
it around my neck. A choker, a ribbon chain.
Thrumming over my heart. Belief: a common theme
here. An ardent desire to bind to you, fastened around
my throat. As if a pounded rhythm: a female
guided by want. Days later we are dragging off
a bottle near the freeway. The shadows syruping walls
with headlights render you zoetrope. A man shifting
in and out. In and out of light. Glass bottle a fallen star,
amber liquid honey. I hold the vial out to you. I know
this is kid stuff, I say. But it’s potion. Potion to bind us
together. You exhale smoke and inhale vial. Zoetrope,
spinning, unknowable if stilled. Sequence of images,
fracturing, that add up to something beloved. Passing
headlights strobe your throat, jugular bobbing
with swallows. Belief: a common word for love, one
frequently interchanged. One attached to electrode,
that sings with illuminating volts, as if in praise.
Ode to a Parallel Universe in Which Two Young Ladies Jailbreak
We climb the tree to escape
the ground. Its verdant and
fetid decay. Its earthworms
squiggling, spaghetti meat
strands. The beetles that chomp
with pincers. Scavengers who
eat the dead. We were not intended
to know of the treehouse. We
in our petticoats. We in our pinafores.
We with our shined, round shoes.
But we do know now. We spied it
out the window. Waving its arms
like a tormented saint. Beckoning
through the mist. So our round shoes
tread over slippery grass, over dewy
caterpillars. Our small hands grip
the ladder planks. We ascend like
parfaits, like gumdrops. Skirts
pink petits fours. The wooden floor
is within sight, but we must not
disturb the hornets. Those who would
hunger for plums. Those who would
feast ceaselessly on their flesh if
awoken by foot on board. The hornets
are dozing, metallic wings folded.
The plums are all around. Hanging
like pale green uvulas waiting for license
to speak. We are waiting for license
to speak. These lace collars cloister
our words. We scale the tree and
unfasten each other’s. We shed the
pinafores. We stand in our bloomers
and camisoles. Barefooted rebel dolls.
The sky is lightening in the east. You
reach your hand out toward it. The tree
issues a massive groan. One thousand
hornets snap awake. Two thousand
webbed wings whir. But we are glint-
eyed. We are not afraid. Moss and leaves
shudder down to earth as treehouse
untangles from roost. It hovers, creaking
in the air, dragging snapping branches.
I gather as many green plums as I can
in the satchel of my shorn dress. You quietly
mouth an aubade, staring toward the sun.
The swarm is outraged, searing toward us.
Screaming, Get inside. You are not meant
for movement, for motion. You were made to
be eaten. You are ours to consume. You shake
your head. Steer toward the horizon. The
cirrus clouds sodden with violet. The swarm
falls away like livid gold dust as we slowly pick
up speed. We undo our ribbons, final vestiges
of domicile. Wind stirs, tousles our hair.
Catherine Kyle holds a Ph.D. in English from Western Michigan University. She teaches literature and composition at the College of Western Idaho and creative writing at The Cabin, a literary nonprofit. She is the author of the hybrid-genre collection Feral Domesticity (Robocup Press, 2014) and the poetry chapbooks Flotsam (Etched Press, 2015) and Gamer: A Role-Playing Poem (dancing girl press, 2015). She also helps run the Ghosts & Projectors poetry reading series. Her poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and graphic narratives have appeared in The Rumpus, Superstition Review, WomenArts Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her writing has been honored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts and other organizations. You can learn more about her at www.catherinebaileykyle.com.