Poetry by Kate Nitze



I unstrangle. Dangle a little burnt bacon
at the back door
to see if a determined part of me
floats up the stairs,
a reluctant stray finding its address.
Perhaps there are other orderings of nerves
– my map is worn out
– a new route through rot and worry.
A child drawing freehand stars in pencil
is bigger than intestinal winces,
a metallic throat. Ears merely echo with heat.
If someone could please squeeze my foot
it’s so damn cold
maybe carry the grocery bags,
I’ll soak little livers in buttermilk.
Still, a situation is a situation. A passageway crumbled
is not always best for breathing.
This chorus of metals and minerals:
In excelsis feo. Ferrous. Ferritin.
These B12s and bovines and beetroots in tiers.
I see a fallacy. I sleep in a crowd of doubt.
But still nothing
will ruin our half-awake movements,
butter and berries. My father believes the same
despite his kidneys,
his diminishing frame. Each morning
he tries to remember hunger,
a parade of children leaving.
He shakes his head at the extras I slide his way–
thin, prophetic squares of seasoned meat.

Kate Nitze was a finalist in Columbia Journal’s 2018 Winter Contest. She is an editor, educator, and hospice caregiver in San Francisco. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana. Her work has appeared in Ninth Letter and Bone Bouquet, and received a commendation for the 2017 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

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