Catherine Kyle 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 and are forthcoming in The Rumpus, Midwestern Gothic, Superstition Review, and elsewhere. Her writing has been honored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts and other organizations.

December 21, 2016

Catherine Kyle

Ode to a Parallel Universe in Which I Ignite Care

The hedge maze is burning. I admit, it is my fault. For all your warnings of synaptic crisis, I looked in your eye, tilted the candle, lit the ends of my dress on fire. Then strode into the brush. Licking leaves with flame, a lady all done up. Scorching petticoat bristling the whispering emerald red, sparks that climb the chlorophyll walls like golden tamarin paws. These items are my domain. The black and ashy felled. You had wanted to show me an object at the center. A fountain, perhaps, or a bird. Something that dwelt in verdant. Something that fed on night. But I could not bear to see it: a specimen so beautiful. I could not bear to see you sway that thurible, so clean. Tranquility almost a poison. Something that caused me to reach for a match. An act of immolation. You fade into the bush. I flee and stamp out my hem. Steal the horse we had stowed and spur, hair ends crinkling coal flags. And I want you to know: If I had two lives, I would not have needed to do this. Perhaps we could have sat in grass, you tracing my palm, reading lines. As it is I watch from a far-off cliff, picturing your sad eyes. The maze a cat yawn, open and orange. Its sun dial darting, confused by such light. Searching like hands for the dawn.

This poem is from a full-length manuscript in progress that explores poetry as a sort of parallel universe. In poetry, we can defy time and logic. We can bend the bonds of reality and perform impossible feats. I love this about poetry — that it can abide by fairy tale logic where worlds are shaped by emotion. All the poems in the collection are like this: recognizing the world for what it is while acknowledging that things could have gone another way.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press.
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