The Last Pages of Anna Karenina by Catherine Garbinsky

I used to know the constellations.
I could name them even on foggy nights
because I knew where they would be,
I knew how they would move.

Last summer I flew to you
and your face and arms were covered
with new freckles to discover –
I spent the year studying them.

We sat on rocks
by the water in Rhode Island and watched
helplessly while a bird twisted
its wing around. It could not fly.

Now one hundred and three degree days
have me hiding indoors with
a Russian novel.

I knew you once,
the way that the ocean knows the sky,
I knew you.

We never finished one another’s sentences,
but sometimes we spoke in unison.
Sometimes we smelled the lilacs in the same breath.

I thought we were playing pooh sticks
as I watched you drifting away.
I ran to the riverbank
to find a bird with its wing twisted.
He would not let me touch him.
I knew you once.
The way a moose knows the woods of Maine,
I knew you.

I do not know goodbye.
I only know that there will be
unfamiliar freckles.

I wonder how you smile when the moon shines.
I cannot remember the man in the moon,
or anything else worth
smiling for.

I felt your scars and the arch of your brow,
the place on your calves where your wellingtons rubbed the hair away.

I knew each freckle like a mark on a map
across your skin.

I do not know these new freckles
you have grown in the Summer sun
on your new adventures without me.
I do not recognize these landmarks,
and I am lost.

I used to know the constellations.
I could name them even on foggy nights
because I knew where they would be,
I knew how they would move.

Catherine Garbinsky is a writer living in Northern California. She holds a degree in The Poetics of Transformation: Creative Writing, Religion, and Social Justice from the University of Redlands. Catherine is the author of a chapbook of Ursula K. Le Guin erasures, All Spells Are Strong Here (Ghost City Press, 2018). Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Rag Queen Periodical, Flypaper Magazine, Coffin Bell Journal, and others.
twitter: @mrsgrrrbinsky instagram: @catherinegarbinsky

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