Katana Smith


Attending to my nothing
matters on Thursday when

work is over I go to the store
with the beautiful bay windows

and buy you something there
a pair of white leather gloves

that look like someone died
wearing them for your birthday

I buy a book of matches a photo
also of a woman wearing a pair

of white gloves standing still
in a studio somewhere before

a curtain of black velvet wearing
flowers in her hair and a white dress

with one gloved hand on a vase.
I wanted to buy you a picture

of a Black person I looked
through all the old photos

to no avail I am the only
Black person here. I go

to Trader Joes because
I need to eat and buy champagne

for you for your birthday
I am so lucky you are alive

I hope someone will buy
the photo of us that I keep

near my desk where we are
standing together in an apple

orchard and I need to buy apples
to eat on your birthday I’m fast

passing through the store in and out
the cashier says, “those are my favorite”

when I bring her the apples, “those are my
favorite” like they say here to anything at all.

                    FRENCH TOGETHER 

                                                                           I asked her do you think I’m a special person? We were sitting in her kitchen
                                                                           having the affogatos I’d begged her to make in her tiny glasses. Do you think
                                                                           I’m special? I leaned my head against her soft green wall the wall she painted
                                                                           herself after begging her landlord just to paint the wall in her own apartment
                                                                           and how she painted it with a large round roller and told me this is perfect
                                                                           and she fed me there garbanzo beans and spinach in a large flat dish
                                                                           when the sun went down and it was finally time for dinner. I told he
                                                                           about a boy I knew once bought me a box of French pastries little
                                                                           puffy things tucked in a plain white box wrapped in a green ribbon. We
                                                                           had taken French together and I told him often that I dreamed of moving
                                                                           to Paris which so far I had not done. I always thought I would somehow
                                                                           be forced to do it somehow be pushed like out of a car maybe I would wake up
                                                                           there one morning smoking a cigarette and with dark eyeliner under each eye
                                                                           speaking to the waiter at a cafe in beautiful clear phlegmatic sentences. I realize
                                                                           now he must have been in love with me. My friend that is. She looked at me
                                                                           carefully with her large heavy eyes I wished she could hold me in place against
                                                                           the soft green grass wall I should have told him that I loved him I would be
                                                                           married every day he would bring me a plain white box with a green ribbon and inside
                                                                           I would be a very special person every day but now she is just looking
                                                                           at me and I am not a wife.

Biographical Statement

Katana Smith is a poet from Aurora, Colorado and a graduate of Knox College, where she was a McNair Scholar. She is a graduate student in the MA+MFA program at Northwestern University.