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Kate Arden

Kismet as contact sport

In most universes, I marry you. But not all of them.

#1,213, for example. You’re a prince and I scrub

the castle stairs, and when I hear you’re to be married

I poison the stew. #526, I get to be the prince.

You’re in the dungeon, soon for the gallows.

I stand nude outside your little window

so your last days are full of nice views.

No, shut up—you don’t die in all of them.

#1,129, I’m a calla lily and you’re a very slight

breeze. Does that make you dead, Socrates?

#226,718, we’re opposed soldiers that lay down

our guns to play soccer but it’s just for the cameras.

#17c, I’m a dog with a bone and (egads!)

it’s your bone. #17d,

we are both just dust particles and we're sucked into

the same vacuum cleaner. Of all the gin joints

in all the worlds. Come here often?

#4,091, we have a very charged

interaction at a coffee shop (I've read that, it’s good.

Whoa, spoiler!) and I leave my scarf behind. You try

desperately to return it but I’ve already

bought a new scarf and also I don’t like you

as much as it seemed. In most of them, yes,

I marry you and hey, in some of them

we even last the year! There’s #11. We buy a duplex,

we have babies, sell the duplex at a loss.

Fuck quick in the shower when we can.

Chicken again? Doesn’t it feel like we’ve

had chicken every day of our lives?

We fight, yeah—there are big crawling months when

it’s just one long fight—but then our youngest has this

piano recital and you forget not to hold my hand.

No, I know, we don’t always last the year.

No, I know. We don’t always get married.

There is at least one universe

in which we never meet at all

and by God, when I find it—

race you there.

Drowning (in and) out

Phone sex with you is still a baleful

imitation of the real maelstroming

thing, sure, but also better than bodied

sex with anyone else, so here

I am. Hidden most catholically under

my duvet, reminded of reading after

curfew by flashlight. Yes. I was that

jezebel they warned you about.

Your graveled hymning across air

waves, you were barely awake when

you picked up and now—awake—

up now—-I fold in on myself.

Taut with exiled exhales, the dirtiest

thing I could think to say was

I miss you I missyou yes imissyou.

The best part doesn’t come, you

know, in which you’re sweating

and I stick myself to you anyway

asunder of all our oceans, hey—

is it sex, just listening to you breathe

across all these watered hours?

That’s my favorite position. I once

desired you so badly I burst

into tears. This was when you were still

here—I was to see you the next day

and yet, my hands wavered like paper

boats as I floated plates of pasta

and tiramisu to my tables. I watched

their water glasses perspire. We

agreed we wouldn’t last past

your leaving, but when lovegirls

like me find a hook to flesh into

we just don’t let off, you know?

And you! O poster boy of practicality

it was a day before you called,

ragged. There was no question

posed nor answered. Neither

specifically nor Atlantically. Yes

I love when it is raining both here

and there, but I do miss our showers.

Running soap over your shoulders

down your wrists. Salinity

circling the drain and there

unsurfacing. Still, we can lather.

Repeat. Deep breath, flashlight on

or I can bioluminesce. We’ll

go auraciously into someplace

where my mouth is open, yes, but

no words come out for once—for once.

I want to tell you something you’ve never heard before

but I was born with you there in my hip socket

I was born unto your shirt pocket

we pass by storefront glass

if you’re so tall how are you on my keychain huh fucker?

how can you be over my shoulder if you’re in it ?

I am sore of you the whole sworn shore of you

I am hard won and you have won me

what are you going to Do about it?

you’ve stitched me inside out

from corner to corner and back again I am underbelly up

everything’s closed before we can get out of bed

don’t you care to eat?

the last time I was this loved I cut off all my hair

I didn't need it anymore

Yes I love you it’s like a funeral

I could've gone all my days without knowing

and now—you see?

of course you do I’ve got your glasses on


Kate Arden is an M.F.A. candidate at the University of Kentucky. She received a B.A. in English and political science from the University of North Carolina. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Cordite Poetry Review, Ghost City Review, and Cellar Door.


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