Catherine Kyle

the undrowned 


here we see the insides

of a filmy ghostly membrane.


what lingers under gauzy skin:

the perforated glow.


here we see a collection of ornaments:

fragile, tinseled, glass angels.


here we see the tacks and buttons

cast haphazardly.


here we see a pond where ripples

hint at things (un)drowned.


what is drowning

when membranes


like water are pierced

and what gasps


through the glistening 

puncture wound is air?


zoom in and witness    (quietly)

a ritual disrobing:


the ghost of a woman pulls dew

from her hair. squishy, sun-licked pearls.


wipes her chin from what she has guzzled:

blood from the tap of a tree.


what was maple gave way        (like lactation)

to something more substantial.


this must be what they mean when they say, she was not given

what was wanted, but what was needed instead.



I am a fish some days.

on others, the magpie who starts

and snatches air.


the air that spheres out

one two three 

whenever I open my lips.


they call it oxygen;

they call these signs of life.

I call them rehearsals.


one of these days

I’ll find the words.

then she can snatch at that.


bird-self, perch there

all you like.

you cannot hurry this.



besides, I am just here

in the shallows, drinking up the reeds.


a lily pad is bobbing

in my outstretched fingertips.


a cattail, bushy plume and hard stem,

catches on my right thumb.


and there is something rather

regal in this—don’t you think?


orb and scepter

brought to me


by muck and chirping toads.

by red-winged blackbirds,


box turtles,

the gray and downy goslings.


and who would stop me

from self-coronating


sovereign of this pond?

who would still the trumpets


of the mauve mist

on its shore?



the queen of ponds

and dusk and mire rises

from the lake bed.


presses footprints into sand

and rings out her dark gown.

fireflies crackle against star splatters


and this is her unending crown—

nothing as fixed or as dull as a bauble.

airy. windy. night.


she inhales and her contents dissolve,

leaving only the filament, the outline

of a queen. she exhales, re-solidifies.


a waxing, a waning, a tide.        (and)

what other power is there?

the landscape must rule itself.


watch love distill now, the sugar-crust drip.

nourishment oozing

from what was a wound.



magpie, come and see

what I have pressed here in my palm.


I have caught the dipping sun for you—

for you, I have made it a ruby.


wear it around your neck as a medal.

think of me and sing.

Catherine Kyle is the author of the poetry collection Parallel (Another New Calligraphy, 2017); the poetry chapbooks Gamer: A Role-Playing Poem (dancing girl press, 2015), Flotsam (Etched Press, 2015), and Saint: A Post-Dystopian Hagiography (dancing girl press, 2018); and the hybrid-genre collection Feral Domesticity (Robocup Press, 2014). She teaches creative writing at the College of Western Idaho and through The Cabin, a literary nonprofit. Her website is

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