One Poem

Katherine Williams


Being a volcano, Mom is invigorated by danger. Dad is a chain smoker specializing in Solo Yachting. All over the place they leave pictures of boats with big rosy breasts, and books about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

The girls are afraid of friction, and roller-skate everywhere they go. Dinner is hard on Celeste, all those nasty little green things she can't keep down. Whenever Mom gets up for more Molotov, Alice gobbles the rejects on Celeste's plate. Celeste in turn keeps quiet about Alice's shoplifting problem. One day Mom heaves up Lily; soon Lily will go back in. She likes to load up on aspirins before school. Although her tongue is turning black, she sings in her sleep. She trembles all the time.

One night, Dad takes the girls to the top of a tall building. They look down into it and see frothing sulfur. As they descend the steps, behind them the building has begun spewing lava. Dad is nonchalant as three girls jockey for his two hands, saying "OUP-la" as they all hop down, one step at a time, their roller-skates clattering, flames and ash hurtling into the lacy clouds above.

Katherine Williams

Katherine Williams, while running UCLA's Transgenics Facility, authored two chapbooks and gave readings throughout Southern California. She is published in various anthologies, has received a Pushcart nomination, and her chapbook Cranioglyph is forthcoming from University of South Carolina Press. She now lives on James Island, South Carolina, and researches coral microbial ecology at the Hollings Marine Laboratory.