Broken Hearts and Broken Curses

Catherine Garbinsky


I cursed them in my sleep.
Whispering words, half conscious, small curses:
snake’s venom in their breakfast cereal,
small holes in their window screens, just big enough for mosquitos to slip through,
alcohol that burned the throat,
little shards of glass on the floor (that they could never quite get rid of no matter how much they swept) from a mug broken when we still spoke and I still thought our fights would be resolved,
an itch that they could not scratch just on the inside of their nostril,
stubbed toes on all of their hikes,
sunburns that blistered.

I cursed myself when I awoke.
Curses that broke my heart all over again:
little reminders of how worthless I’d become,
how passive and idle and full of despair,
and how dependent I still was on their approval and their kindness,
papercuts and accidental knicks with my razors,
and then ceasing shaving altogether to avoid the swirling and
spinning blood in the bath,
broken fingernails and sweaters that caught on everything,
sweaters that pilled in the armpits,
smells and stains that wouldn’t come out of my clothes
no matter how often I washed them,
and tired eyes that wouldn’t stop crying.

I blocked them online.
I put a sigil by my front door to keep them out.
I hung wreaths of lavender by my bed to keep my sleep peaceful,
to let go of my anger and fear.
my mother made me a necklace of rose quartz
to mend what had been broken.
I put salt on the rim of my glass to stop my tears.
I started a garden, growing nettles that stung and beautiful flowers with large thorns.
I grew my own thorns.

I remember when
the full flower moon began to wane,
and I let something new take root inside of me:
and I loved someone else.

Years later, they still try to visit me in my dreams.
They try to tear down my memories, but
my brambles keep them out.
They hacked away at them
with the carving knife I gave them before I left —
the knife I had learned to whittle with as a child,
the one I had used to make so many beautiful things —
they do not realize
it is not a weapon, and they can no longer hurt me.



Catherine Garbinsky is a writer, a witch, and a worrier living in Northern California. She holds a degree in The Poetics of Transformation: Creative Writing, Religion, and Social Justice from the University of Redlands. Catherine’s chapbook of Ursula Le Guin erasures, All Spells Are Strong Here, is part of the Ghost City Press 2018 Summer Series. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in L’éphémére Review, Rose Quartz Journal, Venefica Magazine, Cauldron Anthology, and others.