Poetry Trace

The Cake is a Lie

Kayla King portrays all of womanhood in one stormy, singing poem.

by Kayla King

I might’ve been a mother,
but I am nothing now.
Don’t search for my roots, but trace your fingers
over leaves, the openness astounds each time
you begin. Wring wing until wet
spreads over your fingers.
Oh, little fool, there are better ways to forget.
You hide against my limbs as if I am your mother,
but I cannot hold you
safe.

We are cursed
because we are women.
I will not leave you
the way your own mother did.

Maybe you and I might have been friends
like other girls.
We could’ve kept secrets in dark
beneath a small moon we’d pinch
between thumb and forefinger.
Maybe I would tell you about the constellations
to distract from the memory
of broken glass shards like
fallen stars.

Maybe—
now is not the time.

You’d like to call me a ghost,
but I was a girl once.
I was a daughter of dream-sea dying
to be loved.
I was a dead man’s echo.
He promised to bring me back
as someone new with a perfect
name and pomegranate lips he’d love to kiss.
But he never had any intention.
And there was the look that came from booze
on the rocks without a chaser. I remember
his eyes glazed like blown glass.
I’d shatter the image if I could,
but it’s too far gone to break back to it now.
Too much of that look has laid down roots in bones
like a graft of something green growing evermore.

I like the sound of that word now, tell you so.
Though I would have separated the sentiment
between forever and more if it was still then
and not today.

But this is now.

You fear your past lives will come
crashing back all at once.
You once liked a man,
thought he was your soul’s shadow; your imprint.
You didn’t think to close your eyes to his eclipse before.
You were blinded. You were shamed with lips too red.
You think of a girl crying on a bathroom floor,
but you are not her. And you’d like to say it was the crimson cry
of blood between you,
under hand as he drained to death.

I ask you when, and you say past.
And you say Mama, though I’m not
your mother. You say you remember
her admitting he would’ve finished
you. As if you were something to be consumed
whole, instead of taken in parts.

And I’ll remember human
resilience, womanhood so
wrecked in the way you
cried yourself
to yearning that night,
not sleep.


Kayla King | kaylamaeking.wixsite.com/kayla-king-books
Kayla King is a graduate of Buffalo State College’s B.A. in Writing (2013), and the Mountainview MFA (2016). She is an editor and contributing writer for One For One Thousand, an online magazine dedicated to the profundity of flash fiction. Kayla is the Blog Manager and Staff Reviewer at Young Adult Books Central. Her work has been published by or is forthcoming from One For One Thousand, Germ Magazine, Five 2 One Magazine, Plath Poetry Project, Cat on a Leash Review, MockingHeart Review, Figroot Press, Souvenir Lit Journal, and Twelve Winters Press.

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