Happy World Poetry Day

“This is where we keep our dead,”

We explain. “Many of them.

Though some we burn, and, long ago,

We wrapped them in cloth and

Chemicals, for keeping.”

Crystals, crucifix, curio cabinets,

We are creatures who keep,

With hands so small

We must carry rucksacks

Must build our places of shelter

Large enough to hold our memories.

Devotional in our carrying, like the

Magpie or crow, entranced and loving,

Nostalgic for the time of woodfire

And camp, much of us looking

At nomadic peoples with that

Othering eye, admiration and pity.

Obsessive, our minds disquieted by difference, by sameness

Returning to the blackness between the stars —

And stories, oh how we love the narrative,

The unseen hand of collective consciousness

Framing, collapsing, winding our heroine

Down dark stairwells, the redemptive arc

Of the addict who looks into the basin

One last time, clawing their way back to grace.

The existential struggle, the dust in our hair,

The clash of we-against-me versus me-become-we,

A climax, a denouement, some of us so very neat

In our packaging,

and the rest of us laugh at the French for ending the novel


Yet the biological thrust of it all underscores everything.

Colors become art, the shapeless wonder of void

Turned to form, inert and desirous, until the plumes of

Volcanic matter destroy, the salted waves of ocean

Erode the mountain, water rooted so deep we can only imagine

The base as space-like, our aliens modeled on the spiny tenterhooks

Of what light forgot.

Clasping fingers like shutters, the physicality

Of tightness, nearness, the sensation

Of lightning striking the tallest tree, this, this,

The gasp, the embrace, the carving of our

Initials in the insides of lover’s throats,

The sound of midday sun burning off the mist —

We are. We were. We will be.

“Ask us more about ourselves.”

We gesture, broadly.

“There is much to tell.”

Like what you read? Give Cate Smith a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.