Ode to a Parallel Universe in Which Heaven Does Not Shut

Catherine Kyle


Heaven is a nightclub by the port. We gather there at dusk, sounds of waves slopping against ferry sides lulling us to rapture. Lulling us to selves unlike our dayselves, sculpting the minds of ravenous women who slowly slide off their coats. Women who gather, long-legged in the restroom, who varnish their lips in the mirror. Fishnetted, sleek, wearing things made of silk. We heavily shadow our eyes. We make them unrecognizable. This is not a place for our dayselves. Heaven is no place for that. The barkeep pours and we purr to the counter. Wearing black boas and high heels. In an hour, the hallways of Heaven will thrum with faithful aching to pray. Meanwhile we drink. Drink and rehearse. We writhe under stage lights like animated kelp, blue limbs curving, retracting. Our brains are buzzing with the choir outside that sings from the darkening pavements: lyrics that guarantee footfall of strangers and hungering mouths that part. Gloves will crumple to wood floor. Bodices tumble like scythe-split weeds. We peel our layers like skin. Our breasts will shine under red lamps with sweat. Eyelashes heavy, thick veils. We glitter. We glitter. Amen. Hallelujah. Trace the lines of our asses with open-star hands. Ritualistically cleanse. At the back of the club is a portrait of God: God gazing over her shoulder. God as a maiden with excessive curls; God with chestnut-tipped wings. The portrait of God smirks as we pass her, tapping the frame as we file backstage: small appeals for luck. Its gold paint flakes along with our nails. God, a flaking gold frame. And God’s thorny eye sings, Priestess, I dare thee. Erupt upon this stage. Become a vision so violently bright, they must shield their eyes. Reckon, now, with my creation: living flesh roaring and raw.  



Ode to a Parallel Universe in Which Heroism Goes Unrewarded


You carry me across water. In this desert it is raining as if the world will end. The gutters are all flooding. We hydroplane, you say, because the drains cannot take it. This multitude of drops. Your car stutters steam as we pull into the parking lot. The lines waver and shimmer. Drowned like long, white fish. The ripples and splashage are everywhere. We silently watch the café across concrete. Shining with candles and bread. Canopy bright as a poppy. You scratch your fraying head beneath your signature fedora. A gentleman outside of time. You are not looking at my sandals but I know you are looking at my sandals. My feet like two limp rabbits. Skinny and stabable flesh. Your friend pulls up beside us. Wearing a blue sweatshirt. He flaps his arms. You are going to get wet. You shake your head. No. She’s fine. You and your black coat swirl to the side door. You scoop me up like a kitten. I mewl a little and cling to your neck. My skirt spirals down, a loose wing. Your black boots trod the floundering pavement. Water swallows your toes. Gratitude grips my throat with two hands. You do not look at me. Inside the café, everyone cheers. The elderly clap their thin hands. You set me down and we both blush. We eat our bread bowls with soup. And I feel like a damsel. The thing we both despise. I feel indebted, like I owe you a receipt. For this and that morning we tried to co-shower but I passed out from the heat. I know; I am a damsel. The last thing we want. A small boat in a storm. When the city floods, I will perch in your car. Peer at you through the window. I will tuck my knees up. Hug them like a preserver. Say, Sorry. I cannot accept.   



Catherine Kyle teaches literature and composition at the College of Western Idaho and creative writing at The Cabin, a literary nonprofit. She is the author of the hybrid-genre collection Feral Domesticity (Robocup Press, 2014) and the poetry chapbooks Flotsam (Etched Press, 2015) and Gamer: A Role-Playing Poem (dancing girl press, 2015). She also helps run the Ghosts & Projectors poetry reading series. Her poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and graphic narratives have appeared and are forthcoming in The Rumpus, Midwestern Gothic, Superstition Review, and elsewhere. Her writing has been honored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts and other organizations. You can learn more about her at www.catherinebaileykyle.com