Katherine Soniat

Aqua and Violet
March 21, 2023 Soniat Katherine



Childlike ones don’t tattle on the choice of stepfathers.
Compendiums of quiet they are—the bathtub girls
remain hushed     and become legends in waiting.


Something happened to my medicine-cabinet mirror
as it began to shake and would not stop,


which is consistent with the story nobody knows.


Silence simmers like butter      oddly
(and goldenly) brought to froth but never does it
clarify into language.


My father-man’s face         I caught glimpses of—
that man always would be in my keeping.


More phantom (than not)
he breathed from that bathroom mirror.


A spotty history           no man wants to own.
Invincible.     Never-heart of the canyon.


For sure it is her/me        his naked prey in the tub
Underwater refractions.   Blue/green.


He watches me spot him in glass.


With such aquatic vision, time should have been mine.
My space in which to ask, Whose bath comes dripping


in dreams with that same clear-glass girl


up to her neck in water?






In her dream of cherry trees
is winter


Frozen     she was  :    :  thoughts like that offered weight
to her being


Out of all those branches there should be one strong enough
to hold a swing full of her
up and out there    and never
to break


Numb she feels as any child who sees men with glass eyes
in every mirror

KATHERINE SONIAT’S eighth collection of poems—Polishing the Glass Storm—is recently out from LSU Press, 2022. Her ninth collection, Starfish Wash-up, is forthcoming from Etruscan Press in 2023. Bright Stranger was published in 2016 (LSU PRESS). The Goodbye Animals was awarded the Turtle Island Chapbook Prize (2014). A Shared Life won the University of Iowa Poetry Prize. She has served on the faculty at Hollins University and Virginia Tech.