Spotlight: After the ring… / Prayer / She’s a lot more fun…

After the ring, strip naked

Peel your original self
like a grape, become

unrecognizable when you meet
yourself in the mirror. When you meet

your husband’s colleagues, just after
they get a whiff of baby
vomit, glance at your waistline, ignore
your proffered hand, say:

I am raising our children. Watch
them head for the bar, their eyes
glazed like your salmon dinner,
your ambition curdling like the cream
nobody is passing to you, even

the waiters have forgotten to clear
your plate, they have forgotten you
are there, you have forgotten you
were ever here.

Gather the shreds, clothe your reflection.
Remind yourself that you exist. Before
you break the vow, remember:

You have kept it past all
recognition.

Prayer

Let there be a break in the endless, let there be a crack
in the wall, space enough for slips of parchment, scraps
of love notes, shredded in supplication.

Let me not be afraid—let me stand. Let half of what I show the world
be true and only half of what I tell myself be false. Let oxygen be as easy
as adrenaline and let deliberate feel as natural as spontaneous.

Let something be anything like truth. Let impossible feel a step
closer than unthinkable but still a fathom away from ordinary
and let the unknowable remain so.

She’s a lot more fun than you ever were

My son’s voice comes down the time
zones so clearly at three a.m.
There is almost silence here, nothing
but the moans of my mother who lies
slowly dying
across the hall.

They have had Thanksgiving at the home
of my ex-husband’s new girlfriend which is how
I find out that he has one and that she’s a lot more fun
and has a daughter who is also fun and remembers
that my son is a vegetarian so she fixes
him something special and compliments
his cheese bread—

It is important, I think, to keep breathing
quietly, through my mouth, while snot and tears run
backward into my ears and I listen how they played
Apples to Apples the way we used to—

Keep breathing and remember how I held
this same baby next to the heart
he has just cracked, rocked him in the chair
while my mother who is dying listened as I told her
she was not invited, would not be coming
to this baby’s christening, because, I said, because
you made your bed—

and it was this one, this bed
where I now lie, cradling
the phone upon my chest.

Kathryn PaulKathryn Paul has lived in Seattle longer than she has lived anywhere else. She is a survivor of many things, including cancer and drastic downsizing. In her poetry she hopes to capture small moments and distill large emotions into something she can carry. Kathryn’s poems have appeared in Stirring: A Literary Collection, Words Dance, Snapdragon, and 4Culture’s collection, Poetry on Buses: Writing Home, and in the LiTFUSE @10 Anthology (to be published September, 2016).