Memory collapse


There is no curve of the heart
I am unfamiliar with, but the body,
oh how the body collapses in my mind
like a lung filled with water. I call my father
at dinnertime. He has a new lady friend,
someone who has devised an escape plan.
God always surprises me, even in the smallest
conversations. I imagine them wheeling
themselves out the back door, emerging
in what is left of the daylight. The man-made
lake will be the backdrop to their getaway,
my father fumbling with his keys and then
hoisting his friend into the car, getting in
himself, turning on the ignition. They will drive
to a cheap motel, the only place they can
find that will rent to them by the hour.
They will lie on the mechanical bed,
moving up and down to the rhythm
a quarter can buy. Once they are safely
back at the home, he will call me,
confused and only half remembering
his lady friend’s name. He will try
to explain the weather to me, but even
that will prove demanding. It was not rain
and not wind he will say, his voice no more
than an ache through the phone, a symptom
of what loss there still is.


• With some phrases from an episode
of American Horror Story: Asylum





Sunday afternoon


I bring my Babar figurine to the grief group, something to indicate
my childhood. There were a few occasions in France with my father,
otherwise the memories go blank. I want to show you something,
my sister says when I am ten, a few photographs from his closet
floor. I don’t look at them. It is easier to despise than to forgive.
My husband and I videotape the dog. We spend the whole day
doing nothing. At the end of it, I am still sick with the sound
of my father’s weeping. He is in a nursing home in Florida,
being wheeled around by a woman he doesn’t know.
Once, his wife wheeled him around the botanical gardens.
My friend Louise was there. I brought her as a buffer
because I didn’t know him very well. My husband pulls me
to the bed and I resist. I have been sick with desire
so many times, but this isn’t one of them, head filled
with grief like a shelf overflowing. The ways we leave
each other, subtle and unkind.






The long night of repair


I threw up on the scarf I was knitting at a bar
after Mood Disorder Support Group. At the bar,
I kissed a man who was bipolar and was known
to have hurt a few people. Devotion leads us
to care or not to care, as space would have it.
I say space because there is the prerequisite
of a continuum of time. This was awhile ago,
when I lived in the East Village, in that apartment
with the only window being the square cut
out of the kitchen ceiling so that light radiated
on everything I cooked. There is a way to outlive
all emergencies, but I don’t know it yet. That night
I spent in the bar bathroom, leaning into a woman
I would never speak to again. She had some form
of epilepsy so that every time she went to soothe me
she twitched. There is an absence of snow today,
after yesterday’s storm. We are still reckoning
with what was left on the ground, the beauty
turned into grey destruction. That group did me
good for a long time, and then I felt an absence
of God. Images invaded me, like of Christ
on his cross and the little baby in that stable,
swathed into a sense of safety. I don’t know
if children actually feel safe, or if that is a projection
of who I am. I discarded the scarf that night
in the bar, the same trashcan I leaned over
to get sick in and saw a card someone had written
to a lover, perhaps. I could just make out
the handwriting: I am constantly building
people it said. I wasn’t sure what type
of lover would say that, but I wanted to be
on the other end of something. Instead,
I went home alone, young and impaled,
heartache hanging on my nightclothes
like leeches. There was no one specific
to mourn in those days, because I wasn’t close
enough to anyone to mind being left.
Things are different now, in the cocoon
of marriage, or what should be. My heart
is soft like a tooth, porous in the way you don’t
want. I will lead myself into evening,
maybe followed by a record on the record
player, the thought of dancing lodged
in me like a fork in a piece
of chocolate cake.









Kate Lutzner‘s poetry and stories have appeared in such journals as Antioch Review, Mississippi Review, The Brooklyn Rail, BlazeVOX, Rattle and Barrow Street. She was awarded the Robert Frost Poetry Prize by Kenyon College and is recipient of the Jerome Lowell Dejur Award and the Stark Short Fiction Prize. Kate holds a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from City College. She has been featured in Verse Daily. Kate recently published a novel, The Only One Who Loves You, on Amazon Kindle.

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One Response to Three Poems by Kate Lutzner

  1. vin maher says:

    Hi Kate
    thanks for sharing these. they are so very powerful, visual and visceral. well done, as always!

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