WHEN WE WERE GIRLS
And I can only know what I know now
through a send a-way, a fly a-way, this fly a-way, o no.
To this day, you ask me
if I know where things belong
as if I still live inside of you.
This is what I’m supposed to do:
not from missing
but from the ache
of never wanting in the first place.
Open your mouth, young world.
Your tongue made of a demonbird’s nest.
How we burn to the quick, to the death,
to the seeming end,
a desire so thick you could lap at it.
Hundreds of demonbirds
shoot skyward from your throat
except the one in your stomach dying
I lost the fleeting attempt at subtlety,
a good-bye and good-luck [in remembrance of me].
What happens when we demand,
and in our demanding,
all that is delivered
is plucked feathers.
Dear, I address and readdress,
the package returns no longer lives here
how I cannot find you
I am standing in the middle
of the street
clutching mail-stickers of a past
I have barely forgotten,
this yesterday in today
and tomorrow in everything.
Where are you
across these galaxy moments,
with your thumb out, awaiting death.
How the executioner’s hood
goes over the entire face,
not simply eyes.
Katie Jean Shinkle is the author of The Arson People (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2015), Our Prayers After the Fire (Blue Square Press, 2014), and four chapbooks, most recently There Are So Many Things That Beg You For Love (damaged goods press, 2017). She lives in Yellow Springs, OH.