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.
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.