Kathleen Jones


The dunes are sawdust. No, packed brown sugar.
I topple them with two-by-fours, with my fingers.
From the shambles I mold cubes, which dissolve
in coffee. Or, actually, in the muddy saltwater
that fills the mug, my own scooped hands.
The sky bruises the ocean, clouds low and leaky already.
Every headache I get is an unkind machine, a tempest
that melts the beach away, wet sand sticky
against the hands trying to hold the shore in place.
Shore: the horizon an ocean can see when it tries
to imagine beyond its own churning self.


Your left hand grips an onion. Your right a sharp knife.
I flinch at each thoughtless plunge, your assumption
that the onion will be the only thing severed.
I think about how I never renounce anything.
To strip myself clean of faith and fear—
I can’t imagine accepting such freedom.
You’ve shed childhood beliefs and you’re quick
with that blade. But my faith barely erodes
and I’m slow to cut. And wouldn’t the scraps
from the cutting board make a good home
for a worm to turn over and over, to writhe in joy?
We’re unsafe yet ecstatic on this small planet,
still certain we’ll crumble rightfully, cradled
in the palms of time. But when your friend died
too early, your weeping lacked both bitterness
and vision. I promised you she was happy,
no, I promised you there was nothing wrong
with her anymore. I don’t know if you agreed
or believed for me, in eternity or a nothingness
that—I agree—would be its own kind of peace.
But I don’t think skin as golden as yours could end up
only compost. The cells, yes, but not the light.


Kathleen Jones works as an educator and freelance designer in Wilmington, NC. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her work recently appeared in Ninth Letter Online, Middle Gray, Stirring, and Baldhip and is forthcoming from Heavy Feather Review.