Erasure Collage, January 2021
My nine-year old would like to look
through the pile of New Yorkers
by my bedside to find items for her
school assignment: a vision board.
She gravitates toward the covers
depicting popsicles on a hot summer
day, pastel pink and purple trees.
To stay awake (it’s nearly 10pm),
I flip through issues next to her,
traveling back through time to 2019,
2018—cartoons of bustling desks,
people passing on streets unmasked,
an exterminator lifting a stranger’s
mattress. My daughter cuts out
a photo of rocks. “I like rocks,” she says.
Even though, it’s increasingly hard
to convince her to go outside to see
the real thing. People leave painted rocks
in our neighborhood now, “Be Kind”
one lectured me from the ground.
My daughter prefers to explore
imaginary worlds: Minecraft, Harry Potter,
and Sponge Bob. I’m kind: I let her.
She finds an illustration of a deck
of cards, an owl, cats, a toy car. Snip.
Snip, snip, snip. “Getting late,” I say.
We close each one, but now they each
flash gaping holes. The loss arresting.
I remind myself that the images have only
been shifted, and mean more popsicles,
trees, and rocks for my daughter’s
collage. But, something permanent
is gone. It doesn’t have a name.
By Katie Kemple
Katie Kemple is a mostly vegan person raising two kids, an elder pug, and a carnival goldfish in San Diego. She’s married to the love of her life. Her poems can be found in The Elevation Review, The Collidescope, The Racket, and Right Hand Pointing, among others.