kathryn bratt-pfotenhauer

"THE PHILOSOPHER"

“Tell me, do we see the same things? / Tell me we are the same eyes / burning through the night."
-
Emily Jungmin Yoon

I read a book and thought of you
although I have no right to. The sky

a blue fractal of coincidence we
shared, once. Once, a bird

struck the window next to me
and I thought I understood pain.

I watched as it righted itself before
it flew away again, or tried to, broken wing

fluttering like the eye with a tear
in its duct: furious in its attempt.

Your cat, stalking through the tall grass
of the backyard. The dish of candies

your mother put out for me. These are all
things I remember before I remember we

no longer speak. We share two languages
and there aren’t any words. How to translate

the silence in a way that doesn’t end with
grief.

"FEAST"

“It’s January, everybody is hungry.”
- Nicole Chvatal

All day, I have wearied
my plate. My fingers have
burrowed deep in the black

eye of hunger enough
to know the taste of salt;
I am up to my knuckle in it.

To feed or be fed; my mouth
no longer knows the difference.A
My mouth a cave I shove dirt

in to bury language. My mouth
a dark constellation of need,
need a river I ford. Everything

is like something else. I have spent
years learning the taste of want,
the politics of being full.

Of sweat or silt or sugar, it doesn’t
matter. I have rend my tongue
along the sharpest tine.

Kathryn Bratt-Pfotenhauer’s work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Meridian, Coffin Bell, Superfroot, Grist, Memorious, The Roanoke Review, Glass, and L’Éphémère Review. They were a poetry semifinalist for the 2017 St. Lawrence Book Award and the 2019 and 2020 recipient of the Bryn Mawr Bain-Swiggett Poetry Prize. They begin an MFA at Syracuse University in the fall.