Poetry » Kara Knickerbocker »


The Foundation

We were shelving time until one of us could gather the money or guts to say it
and you framed a place where we almost made love
and carried it up steps to assemble
a right way to start this.

I laid the foundation right there myself
on that cream carpet in your family’s house
leaving a hinged mouth to the May night
as if to welcome
the idea of it beginning.

We were tracking months of blueprints,
hoping they would measure up
and you said you would keep the light on and build,
so long as I wrote.


If I knew one comfort in this new home
it would be in the fetal position, with my back against the open womb of a tub
pretending tears were from your shampooed hands
that once held my head.

I gave birth to a dream I wasn’t ready for
but you nurtured it just the same,
even as I entered that pot–bellied plane
you knew would take your baby away.

For weeks, I have been daydreaming in starched sheets
missing you, my mother, and how it felt to be under a safe moon
when setting sail was a trip to the grocery store
not foreign countries.

I felt the amniotic fluid stream down your cheeks from 5,000 miles away
and wished
that I could be more selfless,
that the umbilical cord was never severed.

I bought a dress yesterday with the euros you had secretly tucked in my purse.
They were fruits of your labor- the crowning reason why I breathe,

and I didn’t even think to buy you a souvenir.


You should have known
that forever is contingent on
Right now and
I wish I smoked
instead of just burning.

I would sit on your back porch and inhale, exhale
you into November
until my lungs felt right again.

Road Maps

pull through the backs of my wrists
when he asks me what’s wrong.
I choke on the other line,
oceans between us
and think about home, about my jealous bones, about kids and the military,
things I’ve seen from this side of the sun.

I consider telling him a lot has changed since two Julys ago…
that I stopped feeling something when he sang along to the radio.

But I just say nothing, and know somehow that we won’t be looking at rings anymore.


She, the five year old face of España, is still alive in my camera memory-
her hand painted emerald eyes daring to open and close as she sleeps.
She tiptoes at midnight
into my dreams and screams at noon
behind burgundy wine lips for galletas, for home
and when she swims naked under a mid-June sun,
her dark locks waterfall down the small of her back.

I try to remember being as free.

She is God filling through the piano rods
the pillars of her strength Catalan mountains
as she shields the weather from her younger brother.
She is beauty in the twirl of an ‘r’,
the thirst she has is never quenched with all the salt water the earth graciously offers her
And salt water of her own,
kissing the coast of her cheeks,
as she stubs her toe on the edge of the horizon

and the world gasps.