Anser Journal

When You Think Back on the Year You Left, This Is Where You’ll Find Yourself

By Kayla King

I emerged from the waves the same way I arrived.
This isn’t happiness, you reminded, but it mattered
not. I promised I’d write about the Nile someday, I’m sure
of it. I feel it in my fingers when I plait back my hair,
the way the still damp strands lick at my limbs
to remember.

There was a moment of forgetting, being too close
in your father’s ‘77 Pinto, which he got back in ‘88.
The seats stayed silted, dust-cracked leather forgiving
the passage of someone else’s time.

It was from here that the words tightened in my throat,
a reaction, perhaps, to the idealized gynecocracy
that would keep us safe.

You missed your mother.

I have mine.

These women were warped by other subtleties
we’ll never know, but in this there is some common
ground; something inexplicable left in bones.

And again I try at an explanation
for everything, because it’s all too much
to give my small moments away now. But all I’m left
with is the struggle to swallow
down this desperation you’ll never understand.
It’s not a pain so much as a panic.

Fortune favors the ferocity now, so I breathe
and I breathe and I tell you I’m sorry
for that thing I said in a different car on a different day
with a different series of skies painted above us. And what if
I slept a little bit more now? And what if in this rush to return
to reasonable reverence for the faces painted on cards, we recalled them
as real women instead?

Maybe now I’ll test this theory. Lean back against the seat,
head pressed to the window instead of your shoulder. Both are chilled.
Both are yours. There is no definition without some missing
parts, and often they fail me. And what a pursuit for such fallacies,
such delectable dissatisfactions to savor and steal.

Kayla King is the author of These Are the Women We Write About, a micro-collection of poetry published by The Poetry Annals. She is the founder, Editor-in-Chief, and contributing writer for Pages Penned in Pandemic: A Collective, now available for purchase. Kayla's fiction and poetry has been published by Firewords Magazine, Sobotka Literary Magazine, and Capsule Stories, among others. You can follow Kayla’s writing journey over at her website,, or her twitterings @KaylaMKing.