Karina van Berkum

Take, If I Saw You Now, Other Fish: Karina van Berkum


Hell, take anything and see
What happens. Take the hand
Of a traveler and she’ll
Become stone, no longer
Free or alone. Take the feral shine
Of childhood from the kiddies 
And watch them waste
Into their paper birthday plates
A man said
Take my love
To his lover and they both 
Became blind 
And their cats and geraniums died.

If I Saw You Now

I used to picture us
Heart-stopped in some crosswalk
Some Sunday. Or you showing up like snowfall

On my deck with your face and that one
Vest, ready to love me. An opera peals
From us, seemingly.

Now I picture me
Being honest at you from across the same
Indifferent street. My face

Explaining itself, my mouth
A frozen bud, and the now
Seasons between us pendent.

You’ll walk away again
But on my watch, holding
The hurt you made like a clay animal.

Other Fish

My lust has grown
Up beautifully. It started
On rocks and docks
As polyps and now

Lumbers in the places
She might live. Every day
Scanning faces

Karina van Berkum is an editor, poet, and teacher. Her work has appeared in publications such as Ploughshares, Five Points, and Strange Horizons, for which she received a Rhysling Award nomination. She was a 2016 Robert Pinsky Poetry Teaching Fellow at Boston University where she received the Hurley Prize in Poetry. Karina lives with her dog Beth in Cambridge, MA where she is the Editorial Project Coordinator for MIT Sloan Management Review and the co-editor of spoKe, a poetry annual. Her first book of poetry will be published by MadHat Press in 2021.