Disaster Relief | Kaitlyn Duling
Kaitlyn Duling is a midwesterner and Illinoisan at heart, though she currently resides (happily!) in Pittsburgh, PA. She is a graduate of the Program in Creative Writing at Knox College in Galesburg, IL. Her poems have found homes in Denver Quarterly, The Fourth River, Ninth Letter, Midwestern Gothic, East Bay Review, IDK Magazine, and Big Muddy, among others. She also writes educational nonfiction for children and teens. Visit her at www.kaitlynduling.com
Not a guide to stain removal
Grass stains. Blood stains. Bleach
on teeth or denim. And freckles.
And dimples near the small of your back.
And red streaks on white skin in tight spaces.
The moment I realize you love me
or you don’t. The best damn chocolate cake
you’ll ever have. The recipe. The night
your father walked away; the night everyone
walked away, or seemed to. The morning
after, or every morning after, or upon waking.
The scar on the side of your left foot from something
you don’t remember. Fingerprints in wet clay.
Carpet burns. The first moment you saw
mountains. Tears on shoulders
of strangers. One year after your father died.
Wrinkles on pillows in bedrooms that cannot, will not
be smoothed. The day you became a parent.
The moments you wanted to hit your child. Your child.
A smooth stone. Water on rocks, rocks on soil,
soil on the knees of your khakis when you drop.
Ink on paper, especially. Paring knives in ripe apples;
potato peelers in hands. Hands on anyone.
Rock n’ roll music. That space in the center
of your collar bone, just below the throat.
The moment you press into life, tender
and deliberate, with just enough pressure
to feel it pulsing back.