No Way to Survive Without Calling on the Oracle First by Kayla King

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: kaylakingbooks.com 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: www.gerburggarmann.com