sweet saturn child

by Katie Hogan

when you were little, plucking daisies and

digging up satellites, you wore braids

knotted and fizzing, gingersnap-soda

strands bobbing unbrushed, scapegoat curls

your mother picked on when she couldn’t pick

oranges from the birch tree anymore when her hands

couldn’t reach me anymore when you curdled like

a half moon

and wanted to cry, I watched you crack eggshells on terra cotta

kitchen floor and I can remember

what her breath smelled like those nights, too

if I could take back every lullaby

stifling your little throat I would

I’d give you all my wishbones and let you keep them.

the reeds you keep shoveling up in the backyard

looking for spaceships to take you anywhere but here

are watching you with birds in their eyes

wondering when you are going to sleep.

I know how you shudder in the dusk. your palms

are dirt streaked fists because it feels like nobody

will hold them and your thighs are so

bruised they are branches bearing muddied plums.

I know how you shudder in the dusk. I remember

when I looked in the mirror and I saw you and sometimes

I think in hissing fits of whisper what I could

have done instead of leaving like listening or lingering

or letting you crawl back out and whimper

because I know you never got to cry and sometimes

when I see you in the daytime, you are juxtaposed

sun smirk-marks a milky way against your flushed

skin and I can see where the salt should have streaked

your cheeks and it hasn’t yet. I wish I could tell you

that saturn’s rings will cradle you when you crumble

and that it’s okay sweet child you should crumble

but I can’t because I haven’t found anything yet in the soil

in the backyard, either. except you, maybe, a memory of you

humming in my ear like an old hymn. I promise when

I find you crumbling I will cradle you, take you to saturn, pluck

the plums from their branches and let you

top peaches with honey. sweet child, you can stop digging.

the wishbones will show the soil how to grow its own spaceships and

saturn’s birches will offer you oranges.

Katie Hogan is a twenty-year-old emerging poet from Richmond, Virginia, writing and living in Denver, Colorado. Her work is forthcoming in The Chiron Review and she is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in creative writing from the University of Denver.