poetry by Catherine Garbinsky


It started with my stomach. One spot,
hardly noticeable. That’s how it happens.
Slowly, imperceptibly, then all at once.
I scratch thoughtlessly with my long nails, draw blood.
When I remove my shirt I do not recognize the creature underneath.

In the shower I take a stone and scratch
at my skin, red and dry and itching.
I imagine myself a dragon, sloughing off old scales
to reveal soft shimmering skin underneath.
They called it a disease, but I call it a becoming.

I cover my skin in charcoal, the smell of sulfur envelopes me.
I wear long sleeves, try to hide myself, become small,
but the smoke from our fire pit finds me no matter which way I move.
In the morning, I find new scales.

I no longer dread the change.
A dragon’s body inspires fear, yes,
but also awe. Covered in scales, glittering sharp.
When I move my body I imagine wings,
a chest full of fire. I am large and fierce.


A candle, just lit
A heart broken wide open
A dream of power

A song made out of darkness
A phoenix from the ashes

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.