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Kate Gale


And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden,
and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. Genesis

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth,
and keepeth his garments,
lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. Revelations

I entered her world.

I came chewing light, chewing bread.
Chewing anything my lips could get around.

They said stop eating.
You’ll be a fat girl.

My lips planted
around corn cobs and chicken legs.

By age ten: Pine sap, cat and dog food, hay, grass, dandelions,
clover, wild chives, tree bark, mold,

horse mash, forest mushrooms, leaves, sand, mica, fish eyes plucked
from newly caught fish.

I cooked a snake and ate it. I wanted
to eat earth.

They said, don’t. You’ll be a fat girl, no one will like you.
Go light on waffles. In the woods, I ate everything. At the table, they watched me.

Zippers exploded, buttons flew.
“You must dress,” they said. “Only God can see you naked.”

I could be watery thin, a twig body, delicate branches of arms.
I could be a plucked flower, a vine. Why do you insist on being a tree?

We will live in our bodies.
We may not pay taxes.

We may not have children
We may not make music.

But we will live in our bodies. Of which,
from beginning to end of Bible we must feel shame.

When I see a thin girl, I feel shame
for my splendored thighs and backside.

We live with our pulse,
our windowed eyes. Our heads and their place in the firmament.

Our bodies, lumpy heaps of globular energy
a thicket of longing in which we wobble around Earth.

I scoop bread and eat. Take, eat this is my body broken for you.
Aren’t all our bodies god? Isn’t every shape divine?

God declared early and late the body the seat of shame.


For Greeks “aidos” was a fear for oneself and one’s place
in the world if one did not act rightly.
We have come to translate this word as “shame.”

God watches you from heaven.
Sees the snail you squished; the fly you distributed across the wall.

I act wisely. Do not kick dogs or punish horses.
Open doors.

But God does not watch me. Not
when stones pile up. Not

when the first stone hits. Nor
when I am surrounded, dragged from the village. What is God doing?

Puffing air in the heavens.
While I feel shame.

For having brought the stones
to my door. I said the words. I gathered derision. Heaped

stones in piles. Invited the crowd. When
they began to jostle

to throw rocks over hand,
underhand, what could I say?

Except God? Are you watching now?
Now? Now?

➥ Bio