We offer our moonblood to the soil
centuries of sliced tongues, burnt offerings.
Cursed Elixir 
when absorbed by the earth
became sacred.
Dirt feeds on shame that we were born of.

I crushed gooseberries
at the back of the house that tamed
     made her
believe that she was dying
a rotten whore
when she bled from her cunt
for the first time.

She clutched her soil-stained apron
turned cranberry,
and ran with the devil
across the village
with grape clots stuck to her feet.

Water-filled buckets in tree sap hands,
he watched her fall to her knees by the well.
[The well
that later gave her dewberry
kidney stones,
stillbirths that she blissfully
into rusty bathtubs.]
dug deep in fresh cement,
she begged him to roll the egg
to start from the crown of her head.
Chase the devil
out of her.

“have mercy on me, a sinner.”

The Tower that spewed us.


Sometime, somewhere his palms no longer reach for the earth.
Elisabeth shuts her eyes, eyeballs punctured by past lives, she sees.
You’re digging, she sings.
You’re digging the mud of a different world. She dances.
You die promising him to come back, to dig the mud in the depths of the sea.
He will never forgive you. This is a conscious, distant, decision.
But his palms will always reach for regret.

            A dream.
I saw it coming. The madeleine, dipped in tea and soaked
to the bones, conjured everything you didn’t see coming.
Such as a slain owl’s heart that rests
on my slumbering chest.
I finally talk.
In my sleep but with dignity. With a melody unfractured
by shame, guilt and nurturing sins.

            A memory.
Just like souls, a taste and a smell never subside.
They stay to remember, to try, to hear, and strike the gavel.
N’est-ce pas Marcel?
When autumn comes and we bathe in heaps of nothingness,
life pleads to remain. Remember the summer, remember last year?
We promise each other.
We promise our deaths to do better next time.

Kate Shylo is a Crimean author, photographer and translator. She obtained her MA in Comparative and Cultural Analysis from the University of Amsterdam in 2019. She is currently an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School of disembodied poetics in Boulder, Colorado. Throughout the years, her writing has grown into a hybrid body of work that entails real-life encounters, myths and dreamscapes. Her academic work explores the subjects of trauma, nomadic subjectivity and post-Soviet existentialism. Kate is also the founder of the photography project “The Creatress Project,” and is the Founding Editor of the diasporic literary magazine “Pocket Samovar.”

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