Spring 2016, Volume 20

Poetry by Katie Montgomery


How long can I go on shooting Wild Turkey on a Wednesday night
and still bounce back the way a rubber ball splats on the pavement
then returns secure to palm? How many microwave meals before
I miss my motherís cooking, her red rice a code I never cared
to decipher? How did I miss the suddenness of things? When I played
outside dinner always came quick, the streetlights had blinked on
unnoticed like the seasonsí subtle changing or the years slipping by.
How much longer will I be able to lift one leg against the shower wall,
on the bathroom counter, over a manís bare shoulder? How often
will I forget the old story of the woman who loves the earth so much
she becomes it, to be reminded again when the wind chills the fresh
spring air or a candle swells triumphant before its blaze burns out?


There are ghosts inside me,
residing in the abandoned house
of my body, the little rooms untouched
since you left. They drag their feet
along the floor, creak up and down
the stairs of my spine. They wail and moan
through cracks in the walls and crawl out
onto my pillow through my eyes and throat.
I feel their chains clank against my brain,
their slow pacing thick on marbled ribs.
My chest stuffed with lily petals and dust
like how water rushes heavy to the lungs.
You would rest your head on my breast and listen
as our heartbeats synced. You said soulmates’
hearts are linked forever. But my pulse thumps dull
in my ears, drowned by the weeping and banging,
constant treading and treading. I think you hear it, too.


When men wrap their timbered arms around me
–waist, breasts, neck –and squeeze like a snake
until I feel my bones will break, the earth
beneath me shakes with knowing, the dirt
humble as a child’s offering. I can then unravel
like yarn, safe and limp in their palms, exchange air
for their mouths and get on with my life
as if I will never end, and I can forget
Harvest Grove, the road buried beneath oaks
and moss and kudzu growth, the graves
I stumbled upon one thick, humid evening
spent brambling through the wood.
Names I did not recognize,
lives codified in chiseled stone declaring We exist
to the dusty road and the chain-link fence,
to the sunset slipping beneath the marsh,
met by the cicadas shrill reply: We know, we know.



BIO: Katie Montgomery lives in Savannah, Georgia. She received her Bachelorís degree from Mercer University in 2015 where she studied English Literature, Creative Writing, and Anthropology. She is currently researching MFA programs and hopes to begin next spring.