SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

PRAYER for WHAT STAYS, as a CORSET

Please breath, unfurl without a hitch, fill lungs with wind, rise, then
fall to rise again ad infinitum. Mere moments, you might cease, or seize

instead, constrained concavity squeezed, two grasped balloons, gone
limp. I gasp. Party’s over, each steampunk gear, all mechanisms grinding

to a halt unseen but felt, a siren’s clutching, a meter’s coin of time
drained into a black hole, a wreck of gulls, flecks, particles, the idea of

existence cracking open lesions in the addled mind riding above; if clods
kick up into clouds of dust, or clotted smoke slides in to choke

the valley, or fear lodges deep within a throat slippery, wet this
second, now brimming with ash or remnants of trash a burn barrel

harbors somewhere too close to let its throbbing pink songbird
sing, writhing to adjust its tenuous frayed grasp, not wanting to lose

grip on its storm-tossed jerking swing; if this thorax were a brittle
vessel rolled on seas, within this metered corpus you make a cage

of 24 arms to cradle my gimbaled heart, stunned sparrow stuffed
into a torn garden glove to keep it calm: I can’t, I can’t…. Tiny

corset stays sprung though still too tight; I’m the minke whale
beached at land’s end to house a colony of crabs, each elegant

arch between your staves a door sluiced with stinging brine; you
exploded, a shattered wine cask, seeping juice, dismantled, jagged,

flayed open when we slid and slammed into a tree; I’m sorry, afraid,
my only casket; not yet a corpse I work to calm the weightless soul

weighing you down, my cavern of ticking stalactites, my straight
jacket, my box of meat, silt, rain—containing this wheezing song

Katrina Roberts has published four books of poems, Underdog; Friendly Fire; The Quick; and How Late Desire Looks, and edited the anthology, Because You Asked: A Book of Answers on the Art & Craft of the Writing Life. Her work appears in places such as The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Best American Poetry, and The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets. Her graphic poems appear or are forthcoming in places such as Poetry Northwest, Permafrost, and Evergreen: Fairy Tales, Essays, and Fables from the Dark Northwest (Scablands Books). She teaches and curates the Visiting Writers Reading Series at Whitman College, and co-runs the Walla Walla Distilling Company. See more at www.katrinaroberts.net.

Ritual

Egret