by Kayla King
Voice fails in the forest where I buried them first.
Peel back the dirt floor like sunburn
picked to newness. Merciless clean becomes
better before best. And earth clings beneath
the polish grown out of a manicure
I can’t fix on my own.
There’s a thing you used to do with your hands.
It’s not a memory, but a thought where you still
weigh the impossibilities. Maybe it’s anxiety, too.
Or exhaustion. You were up early, and I slept,
overheard something I shouldn’t. I wanted to tell you
how strange writing would always be, but you
couldn’t know the price I’d pay
to send those letters. And I didn’t—
I licked the envelope is all. Taste of sour.
Of you. For the moment we are alive
and we are dead because I haven’t opened
the letters just yet, like Schrödinger’s cat.
I sealed you back to a time before your cat died.
And you cried for him. But not for us. Even then,
I saw you everywhere. It’s a realisation
marked by your name on this envelope.
Anyway, you must’ve known. The degradation
as lying shrinks by half and half and—
You will always exist in these letters.
I’d take myself back to a time, but you can’t be made
immortal. I won’t let you outlive me that way.
You called me a collector once, yet I own nothing;
nothing but these words read to revive myself in resonation.
Rain pools prose into marks that still mean something;
I could never get it all right.
But forgetting you now is not enough.
Bite of paper cut, nail beneath to bend
and break and shred. I claw the pages
into paste; a pursuit to end
But there is peace
in destruction. And I am wild. I destroy
like a pack of beasts. Now they hide in dens,
but still they call to me through these woods,
answer by shrieking. They are not people,
but they breathe. They survive in the end.
What have those letters remembered
that I didn’t? I couldn’t—
This is what it was like; I’m still tired, and the times
unmarked without postage make me think too much
about us. Before. With those smiles.
Only now do they have nothing to say.
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, Dear Damsels, The Mystic Blue Review, and Twelve Winters Press. You can find more about Kayla King at her website and blog: kaylakingbooks.com.