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Katherine Soniat


Ever make bets on who lived best inside
their mother's womb?

Don't forget that question. Turn round and forward face
en utero the eloquence and mindlessness of man.   

Made of water, we are tagged with sudden glints
of drowning.

Favor eyes above the waves,
                                               that kind of vision.

It's why the eyes keep score--flotillas of us simply out there
aimlessly looking.             

Who's to make it home?   

Telemachus thought about this a long time,   
long ago by the sea.


How might I return to the land named after brightness,
the home where lit mice once ran the fields  
and thrived on barley?

And who dreamed up lines this sharply pointed:
               Drink only from that fountain.   Leave your skin at the door.
Broken animal ribs served at cliff bottom.   Bottomland pox on those
who love the wrong gender.  
                                           Don't those phrases, no matter how dated,
sound like a way we humans think?                                      How a swift
jolt of war makes us as wicked as anyone else--those who wished they had
done what others did.                                               And they kept on wishing               
the same for an awful long time


But please let's return to my perfect outrage:
how can some duplicitous voice then warn
me, do be careful where you travel
after birth?

Entanglements drag us through time.
Foreshadow.        Post-shadow,
or preemptive strikes of magic  

matter not at all  

for I did it.  .  .  it was me/Telemachus        
who was born and took on that status as trophy

sacks of grain for rats to eat in late winter.



the baby finally
arrives   vinegar
and white hibiscus
pour through the clouds
as once her undergarments
fell from the bed and on hands
and knees she crawled to fish the
flimsiest forward--she the first to
know their movement and departure.
Sprinkled rosewater on a new moon.

-from Fates: The Medea Notebooks; Starfish Wash-up; and overflow of an unknown self , selected by Assistant Editor, Karen Carr 


Katherine Soniat is a poet, professor, and editor. She teaches in the University of North Carolina at Asheville's Great Smokies Writers Program and currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Her latest collection Starfish Wash-Up published by Etruscan Press is recently out (2023). Polishing the Glass Storm was published by Louisiana State University Press Poetry Series in 2022. Bright Stranger was published by Louisiana State University Press Poetry Series in 2016. A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge from Dream Horse Press (2012) was the runner-up for The Orphic Prize, and The Swing Girl from Louisiana State University Press (2011) won the Oscar Arnold Young Award for 2011. A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge was selected as Honorable Mention for the Brockman-Campbell Poetry Award given by the North Carolina Poetry Society.

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