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.