Purgatory

Catherine Kyle

All the mirrors in this house show women whose eyes flicker

fire opal in the 5 a.m. light. The faucet is running. The water

is cold. The veins in our wrists hit the water. Pulse cold.

All the bedsheets in this house are summer sky blue. Embalm us

in wildflower petal hues. Colors like gunpowder I could press

into bombs. Could sculpt them with my hands, press them round

as gingersnaps. Could swallow them, erupt into suns.

Stick out your tongue: Let me see what you have eaten. I see: red

and pink pigments, too. You cup my face. My fire opal ring catches

in your hair. We tug. It will not come loose. So we stay like this:

your hands move to the silk at the waist of my nightgown. Me staring

at the cotton candy paint smear of your mouth.

 

Domesticity

Catherine Kyle

I am pacing in the bedroom and with every footstep,

lupins bloom through floorboards, mauve and blushing blue.

Lily-of-the-valley winds its way down from the ceiling fan.

Dandelions blossom from the pane of my hand mirror.

Soon, I wade calf-deep in them. I tousle my hair. I keep

pacing. Petals fall from rafters like the ash from some great

 

barn. The horses, I am sure, have all escaped, muscles taut.

Hyacinth is fluttering from all the dresser drawers. I lie

on a bed made of poppies. Lord, if you cover me,

a shadow shaped like man, and trace with your thumbnail

the line that knits my ribs, expect me to unzip. Expect

to find not blood, but hot melted nectar there.

 

Mosaicists

Catherine Kyle

Everywhere you go, you leave beach glass,

smooth and turquoise. Clouded. Opaque as milk.

Everywhere you go, you leave new shards,

too. Ruby snares. Smoldering flint sparks.

I pluck them from the carpet as though

I am picking berries. As though I am gobbling

breadcrumbs. I gather them in clear jars. They glitter

on the windowpanes. I beachcomb. I navigate by stars.

Singing in my silk slip, I grind them up so finely

in mixing bowls with silver whisks, they rustle there

like sand. I sprinkle them in flowerbeds. They fertilize

the soil there. They shimmer to welcome you home.

 

Triptych

Catherine Kyle

Sunday. The rain drips down

as if from some great beast. Shaking

her coat. Her hair numen, the sky.

Inside, the furnace growls. Flexes

its flanks. The curled cat flicks her ear

in dreams, a little loaf. She lets

me stroke her hollow throat. I let

her claw my skin. My husband strokes

my hollow throat. And this is what rises

to trust in this world. You and I and she

and all your flannel are ephemeral. Still,

I incant. Hold this light in my hands.

 

© 2015 Cogswell College •  191 Baypointe Parkway, San Jose, CA 95134 800.264.7955 • www.cogswell.edu