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.