We Could Not Harvest the Stars

by Katherine Lee 

We could not harvest the stars and so

we built galaxies of our own as high as we dared.

 

Hide and seek, something constricts,

guilt, and fear and plain bare doubt that one and one

may not equal two and three is maybe almost four and

one more makes five and five makes Friday a coursing rope

of a burning river that flows into two days of peace, probably.

 

Lately I have not seen more than peeks of

early skies that lighten like beaten egg in a pan,

right before you are to flip it so it is not burnt,

the promise of new bread, and alternatively also

the wall of night as it lowers overhead, an iron gate,

a veil, a wet blanket on a warm day. Voices break

 

on my ears like splintered glass until my head spins

and I forget or can’t remember how long have my lips

been dry? In the midst of confusion I think how I have always

wished to fly but really would it feel any more or less than

walking if I could?

 

Push, pull, the wind pries at the dimpling river

over which hangs clusters of stars on a dusk purple trellis –

we could not reach the stars so we grow gardens of our own,

pale gold blooms in glass towers that flicker against summer’s last glow.

We reap what we sow and I have only slowly grown

a few candles lit then left to the winds like those that push against

the breath that strains against my throat and nose and eyes until

I realize that strangely I want to cry.

 

Clay can be molded within your hands but my hands are always

too hot or too cold or too untrained

and the clay is dust like the dryness on my lips and

my hands are splintered glass held together by tendons and tenuous threads

of who knows what since I can barely move through each day.

 

Drop into fantasy and I can see fame, power of the winds at my fingertips

and I clothe myself in swaths of it, a cocoon to bake me until I can emerge

slightly less inadequate with strong arms and a stable neck and

the stone walls will tremble with my will and dreams and yet

 

what dreams do I have? In real life I dream

of old forgotten friends and unfamiliarly

familiar love and above all, pasta,

when I should be dreaming of building glass towers crowned with strands

of stars, dusky purple against the falling orange sky.

 

Wood catches fire and I am dry kindling waiting for more drought,

barely understanding the idea of a sea large and cold enough to immerse me

or drape on my shoulders like a royal cape I can trail behind me

and leave glass splinters in my wake.

 

Before I break, take my breath away and let it fly high out of human sight

so I can dream of it playing handmaid to the stars while I remain here

by the river edge with what’s left of my breath,

cooling my body against the cold stone ledge

About the Author

Katherine Lee is a writer and artist based in Chicago. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2017 with honors in Creative Writing (Poetry) and a double major in Chemistry. Her work can be found in publications such as The Dewdrop and multiple Wingless Dreamer collections. Currently, Katherine is working on a project intended to contribute to and make more visible the dialogue on depression and mental health. In her free time she enjoys napping with her two cats Luke and Leia and walking around the city, especially around Christmastime.