Katie Kingston is the author of In My Dreams Neruda (Main Street Rag, 2005) and El Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio (White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 2006). Her most recent award is the 2007 Ruth Stone Prize in Poetry. Recent residency fellowships include the Harwood Museum of Art and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. She is a former recipient of the Colorado Council on the Arts Literary Fellowship in Poetry. Her poems have been published in Atlanta Review, Great River Review, Green Mountains Review, Hunger Mountain, Nimrod, Rattle, and previously in Weber Studies. Kingston is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing Program. See other poetry written by Katie Kingston and published in Weber: Vol. 10.2, Vol. 13.3, and Vol. 18.1.
Fish Like Angels
Shopping with my daughter
I fill your hands with fluorescent fish, the ones
we buy at Wal Mart, carrying them home
in plastic bags. I notice their reflection
in your fingernails, the shimmer of tail and fin.
The angelfish is your favorite, how it fans
translucent wings and ascends through water.
The current is its home. And just last Sunday,
you described the angels you now see
behind Trinity Hall. Some as small as leprechauns,
you said, as we sat under the gazebo eating
peaches just fallen from the tree, peaches
not far enough from the branch for bruises.
I believed in angels once, St. Michael, St. Gabriel,
the fallen St. Lucifer, and all those childhood
Saturdays in the confessional repeating Bless Me
Father, then stretching sin just for the part
about forgiveness. I no longer believe
in transparency, though I watch as the checkout girl
lifts the bag eye level to catch the flicker
of tails in refracted light. In the parking lot,
we dash through a downpour, then watch the sun
ricochet prisms through a field of chrome.
We drive home through puddles, accelerate
just to hear the hiss of water beneath tires,
just to catch the wild arch of prism in the rearview,
how it rises behind us like double fins, then careens
back into shimmering pools on purple asphalt.
for my sister
So where are your weavings? You are no longer here
behind the loom, the shuttle, the weft,
the intricate promise of threads. The warp is strung
with blue upon blue upon blue upon blue
with magenta roiling through oranges and pinks
like those Sangre de Cristo sunsets I gather
between my own held out fingers, spread,
never interlaced, towards sky.
Oh, it has to be your hair,
black curls that were the envy of your sisters, black curls
I used to iron before the dances, how you envied
the Cher look, something like my own son now,
with pants that hang too low at the hip, so the principal
calls in the parent, me, the Cher-wanna-be. I laugh
when he thinks Iíd make a fourteen-year-old
dress to code. Twenty five years is like opening
an attic chest, we who are still good at memory,
our fatherís Knights of Columbus sword, even at eight
we giggled at these men in plumed hats, three forward pews
reserved for them, never for us,
and this baptismal gown,
yellowed, lace hanging, and my empire-waist prom dress,
a neck fox fur, pill box hat, muffler to match.
And what else did we draw from that trunk? Buttons
in the old button tin, little plastic, metal, bone,
and wood circles trickling and tinkling back onto each other
through our fingers. Together we explored clothing,
the white go-go boots and the red dress with one inch piping
from neck to hem. Back then, girls danced in cages,
while we shimmied The Locomotion with Jimmy Duggan
and Tom that night in the Pacelli gym. We danced
while somewhere in town our mother wore the fox fur
wrapped around her neck, so that its teeth held its tail
closed above her breasts.
We gathered in the bathroom between dances,
discussed the boys who had held us, the handís drift over skin,
but we only dared the smell of Chanel No 5 on our wrists,
English Leather on the necks of those we danced closest to,
and just last week, my son left a scent trailing him,
his room saturated in Nautica, Green Jeans, Mambo, Bora Bora.
And his test of my white lies, Do you like it? Those old days
are like these new days. Oh Mary, I want to wrap myself
in another of your weavings! Come back to the loom,
rework those cotton fibers warped to blue steel.