National Poetry Month Day 4: Kenzie Allen
In a city of seven hills,
you told me once, there is no fate—
kismet: a coincidence
we mistake for grand design.
Could they be one and the same,
I asked, knowing I was reaching
I didn’t understand.
Say we’re the same species,
but I never know what to believe
faced with the distance; alienation
more familiar to my skeptic’s mind.
We’re able to mate; and do.
But what can I make of your body
so unknowable to me, this anatomy
I can’t capture, no matter how
my hands seek out the edges of you
to make reminders I could map—
a changing form, a grand design—
to learn your next bright incarnation.
Must there be rain in this poem
to approximate my longing?
Then let there be rain. A greater flood.
Let us grow into creatures which survive it.
There’s a word for nature’s desire
to evolve a crab: carcinization;
as though his shape is best desired,
a sterling vision in this habitat,
the clay supple and sumptuous and easy
in the hands that make us whole,
and there are many crab-like shapes called crabs,
who aren’t, in fact, true crabs at all.
We run out of names for the remnants.
We call them by their carapace.
I scuttle toward your chitin’d frame, similarly clawed,
yet drag along my chosen shell;
protection, refuge, home.
What can I make of us,
without leaving my shelter behind?
Unless you were the nacre’d cove
all along, a foolproof cavern
fitted to my shoulder blades
with room enough to bend—
to huddle, coil, retreat—to shift
as the silver ring we sized and re-sized
for weeks, once you asked for my name
beside a river which was an ocean
which was my winding, blessed road,
until it slipped past the knuckle but twisted
round the phalange, loose enough to turn inward—
and we call that as good a match as any.
I wear that band, still.
Maybe you are not the catalyst
edged as my own edges, warded key in lock,
no meniscus of exactitude where air meets water,
but a grotto I grow into, a grove I learn
to inhabit. If you are the burrow, not the burial,
let this be the last shell I’d ever need.
In sand, and sea, and willowed grasses,
I would find my way to you.
Author photo courtesy of author