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Three poems by Natasha King

The Ark

Over-eager, I slipped and razored

my wrist open against the bite

of the chain-link fence,

and clutched the swell

of the wound where the skin

leapt and reddened and

blood pearled scarlet as the

holly fruit, and beyond

the barrier, the snow leopard who

seemed etched out of

raw mountain ores and the

thinness of heaven's first exhalations

did not turn her head, to fix me

with her gold gaze, and I

felt what the seraphim must feel:

very mortal, and younger than ever,

scraped raw and standing with untied shoelaces

before the throne, where the signage reads:

do not feed the god, but only

cover your thousand eyes and speak

again and again the name of the world.


Once I saw three loblolly pines

from a distance, and the lines they

cut into the sky were so clean,

I forgot everyone I had ever loved.

I thought, oh, that's how God did it.

If the pines had spoken to me earnestly,

I too would have deserted it all,

and walked discalced over the

dry needles to search out the world's

kindness like gold sap emerging sticky

under the palm. The pines, full of

wind, roared a hymn no one heard.

I caught the tail end of the song and

caught my breath the same way.

Once I saw three trees and I understood,

very fleetingly, that joy comes

unheralded like a guest in the night,

like a knock to the closed door.

Body As Axis

Not a girl-bird nor a stag with blooded antler, but

a carved flight path against the sky,

a footpath tramped through the wet moss.

Not my body

as lamb nor as knife but as the whole show:

God saws the altar in half and I trip forth,

Not the being but—the going.

Not the creature but—the movement.

Myself not

as the skin and the bone

but as the way they sigh beneath my palm.

Body as axis, body as direction.

Let me be unnamed,

Make of me


Natasha King is a Vietnamese American writer and nature enthusiast. Her poetry has appeared in Okay Donkey, Ninth Letter, Strange Horizons, Best of the Net, and others. In her spare time she enjoys reading, prowling, and thinking about the ocean. She can be found on Twitter at @pelagic_natasha.

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