Two lifetimes ago, Catherine performed her poetry in Madrid. Now her main jobs are to write and hang out with her family. Her work has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet Press, and The Grief Diaries. Her chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press.
Find her on twitter @czickgraf. Watch and read more at www.caththegreat.blogspot.com
Back in college, Nickie gave me a treasure: her paisley polyester blouse patterned with red-green figures like figs. Some nights, headed home from the library, I’d weave my arms through its sleeves, leaving behind books to tour the trees, lime green in the lights lining paths around Lake Osceola. Ageless angels smoothed the way as I wandered the cornerless nursery. That shirt was magic. Complex lines and lives snaked together geometric necks, twisted slithering vines around each other. I tried to follow the map they made, searching for the end of forever. I wore it warming up in ballet. Then traveling home across violin fields, I’d tendu pointed toes through notes like doorways. I’d piqué between clefs, end my dance inrelevé though those strings to this day still play in the grass. And some nights, Nickie and I would climb pebble roofs to look down on our lives. The clouds blanketing the sky sprayed rain warm on our hair as the summer sun, dripping drops from the tip of each strand. Most nights, though, I set off alone. And as wind off the lake turned spokes of windmills unwinding in the dark, I’d pirouette in pinwheels of polyester arms— feeling my adulthood beginning, I was newly freed to choose my own direction. So I made my own decisions. Though sometimes, petals hung from stems like tears, like wombs meant to protect conception, like eggs drooping into the earth under shrouds of parachutes. An amber crescent reclines beside the moon tonight. These twenty-five years later, I finally own the words to describe my fingers of feathers surfing waves of endless sky. Living rivers once flowing Eden still feed the veins that branch from my heart. My time in college is now water under a footbridge, where manatees like ghost submarines steer the Miami campus canals. My home is Georgia now where these sea cows swim invisibly my backyard creek under nested parliaments of owls. For four years I grew until billows of grass at the edge of the wild tried to untame my garden. Now I have three boys who bring me chaos and joy. And cornucopia in the clouds sound harvest horns of plenty now. While pinecones are still maturing on the boughs, my words curve around a thousand bells, from their golden mouths vibrations toll. I tie yarn among long pines for my exploring children so they too can wander their own unknown. I watch them from the porch with gratitude they’re still young enough that they still return home. I lost that shirt one day. Then I graduated college for full-blown adulthood. But adventures still fill my mind, dreams will never leave me, will never be fully explored— even when my soul one day outruns my body.