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  • Kayla King

No Way to Survive Without Calling on the Oracle First


Vase Nouveau by Gerburg Garmann
Vase Nouveau by Gerburg Garmann

Mother thinks I’m dying. But these are the days that must happen to demonstrate the fallibility of us all.

Fragile fingers sweep hair from forehead to search for fever first. In my sleep, I dreamed a poem,

but that was too long ago now. And I taste the blood from my nose in the back of throat before it ever petals

down my lips. There’s a desperation to understand the world, but such is a toxic taste. Not tannins, but treacle turned to rot in the gullet.

And what is in your lungs now, my dear? Mother’s words hum in a non-human manner; honeyed and hard to believe.

You must Hope, for such is the thing with a heartstring. Mother maps shapes in the dark, to guide like swords and scales.

Thread reddens around her wrist now, as she outlines the windows and walls. She pretends the pharmacological

warning never stated oneirataxia as a side effect for eating past the garden gate. Just ask the poets practicing the way to end obsession,

and they’ll tell you. These are the oracular symbols I must cling to, call out to the Lady who bestowed these futures first.

She would speak her own name slow if she were here now to explain the meaning: that which is put in place.

But such is a sacrifice for us women. Bring tinctures and tea to tame the madness now settling in marrow.

Womb will remain empty, but such suits me. How could I tell those children about the steady slope

of a room after too many cups of coffee? Anxious angles cloud vision on those days. Maybe, I would’ve called it art. Like the greats.

Like the dead. Because aren’t they the same thing now? I ask for small things: hail and helium, teacups and thistle. I’ll swallow them

down to stave off the subtle sound of starvation. Please don’t expect me to eat from red clover

beyond the backyard. It never tastes like forgetting, but that’s the juxtaposition of it all.


Kayla King is the author of These Are the Women We Write About, a micro-collection of poetry published by The Poetry Annals. She is the founder, Editor-in-Chief, and contributing writer for Pages Penned in Pandemic: A Collective, now available for purchase. Kayla's fiction and poetry has been published by Firewords Magazine, Sobotka Literary Magazine, and Capsule Stories, among others. You can follow Kayla’s writing journey over at her website: or her twitterings @KaylaMKing.

Gerburg Garmann, a native of Germany, is a professor of German and French at the University of Indianapolis. Her scholarly publications appear in both German and French in international journals. Her poetry and paintings have appeared in various magazines and anthologies around the world. Feel free to check out her art website:

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