Art Chowder September | October 2017, Issue 11 - Page 28

Self-portrait with Cephalopod and Digitalis Purpurea -Katherine Smith Sometimes a girl doesn’t need a reason to place KATHERINE SMITH a foxglove blossom on her tongue. It’s enough BY KAREN MOBLEY to like the idea that the heart could stop because of flowers. It’s that or be crushed like ichthyosaurus in a kraken’s grasp by my own sadness, fossilized in unnatural linear patterns, finally measured by the geometry of loss. I don’t need another reason to fear the ocean; I already know it could swallow me from the inside if I tried to breathe it in. Everything beautiful is dangerous, and attempting beauty’s a risk, like the dress my mom’s friend made me for the eighth-grade dance. So often, things don’t hang together the way I imagine. That seafoam bow over my pale, scant breasts looked nothing like the pattern promised. It made my head hurt, knowing how little meets our expectations, so I refused the last dance and my date left without me. He spent the next four years pretending I wasn’t there, my shadow scuttling the halls of the high school beside him. Sometimes a girl doesn’t need a reason to want to disappear behind the unseen framework of collarbones. I think mine would look lovely in a cephalopod’s garden after she’d spit away the sateen straps. Have you ever wondered what’s beneath the skin, working? I know so little, I wouldn’t recognize my own heart if I saw it outside my body. I wouldn’t know my own bones arranged in an ocean bed, an octopus coaxing them to root in the sea floor until their stalks grew thick with mouthlike blooms. 28 ART CHOWDER MAGAZINE What brought you to poetry? I started reading and writing poetry in high school. Of course a lot of what I was writing at that age was typical teen angsty stuff, but still, there was something about poetry that helped me access a part of myself that I had no other way of accessing. And in reading poetry, I found new windows into the world—new ways of seeing and understanding the human condition,