Katie Berta


an object you own
rather than a thing you are,
Confounding, then:
the aches, pains, the persistence
of experiencing them
                            and then
the opposite of that—
the body of the cat
hit by a car and left in the road
speaks for itself.
The mouth yawns and the eyelids cover, flaccidly,
the emptying that’s happened beneath.

It’s hard to put that next to
a body on the beach, a body
in a bathing suit
that bends toward a shell,
abdominal muscles
coming clear
through their sheet of skin.
The woman who owns this body
only feels what it is to be it
until it becomes an image.
In a mirror, she separates
                            from herself,
each matching the other’s gaze,
gesture, shrug. That which
is separable
is separated out.
That which isn’t remains—
in the woman’s brain, “soul”?
She places a hand on a hip,
                            just so,
to see how that
rings around the room.
Her image places,
                            just so,
a hand.

Katie Berta lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she works as the Senior Editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review. She has her PhD in poetry from Ohio University and her MFA from Arizona State. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review Online, Washington Square Review, Blackbird, The Laurel Review, BOAAT, and Forklift, Ohio, among other journals.