Katie Johnston


I don’t know who I am—despite effort,
rooted in this; like black dirt, like leaves,
rotting into it as the deep
brown of their eyes burning into me.
Thinking, now, of the times I was with them:
sitting on the floor in the back
of their roommate’s van, thinking,
I don’t know who I am, I don’t know who I am, wanting
to hold on to something—to brush their hand, if only
accidentally; feel something else but the carpeted floor,
but the lingerings of summer sand—knock combat boots
together because we’re sitting too close and I want noise and I’ve lost track
of feeling. I’ve dreamt of them here—written; hopeless disparity, grounded in
self-asserted contention, saying, I’ll never write anything
better than them—because of their sole existence: the
constellations on their golden cheeks speaking more words
than I could ever muster out of me, making me think of
purple asteroids crashing into us and glittering fire as
oceans boil and the ground cracking as volcanoes erupt
and we drown in glass-ash, twinkling like diamonds
that could never be harvested.

Katie Johnston is a creative writing undergraduate at Columbia College Chicago. She has been an editor for the Columbia Poetry Review, Hair Trigger Magazine, and Mulberry Literary. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hair Trigger, Hoxie Gorge Review, and her essay “The Barriers Faced by Female Writers” was published on the Fountainhead Press website and won the Excellence Award at the Student Writers’ Showcase.