Paige Caine is an undergraduate rising senior studying creative writing and biology at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Her poetry has also been published or is forthcoming in Star*Line, ANGLES, The Merrimack Review, Adanna, and The Ekphrastic Review.
I choke out your memory with smoke,
drown you in liquor but you’re there
each morning when I wake. You’re
there at 3am when my sheets tangle
and my sweat is cold.
You aren’t you in these moments;
you kiss me sweetly, soft, like I
am the apparition who might dissolve
at too hard a touch. You aren’t you
in these moments; you stay. These
are the only moments I feel like me.
My Sisters and Me
We were raised like dandelions
in the brightest sunshine; I believe
my mother would warp it warmer for us
if she could, if only she had a big enough
to her indomitable will
just to see the light
on our faces.
Still we scattered as we grew,
dandelion seeds in the wind,
fleeing for Pennsylvania, for Georgia,
for the cold mountains of Alaska
where the night lasts months.
Only from here do I see
it wasn’t her; all along
there was something else
in the soil.
Plea to the ghost in my basement
You start your car with a kazoo, kiss it,
strange shriek over muffled breath, two beeps and
the keys click. Please pass for me every time,
please drive past your drowned dreams — they
won’t help you now — and see us, on those days
those slippery days when the car starts, your
jokes are funny, comments smart. You know
you drown him too, so please see us, this time. Please stay.
Sorry for every night I forgot
to pray like you taught me,
hands pressed together, fingertips
pointing toward heaven.
Sorry my soul is stained as your glass images
but lets through no light to be distorted
as the word of God across two thousand years.
I wish I could believe like you taught me to
in all the moments between prayers—
flossing popcorn from my teeth, zipping up my boots—
but most nights I can’t believe even
when I need to most. Don’t waste any time
behind those pearly gates searching
for me like I am lost in the grocery store.
You won’t find me this time.
Forgive me, I know
you meant to save me.