Manzano Mountain Review is an online New Mexico literary journal affiliated with UNM-Valencia.

         Three Poems

by Kat Heatherington

the flash flood and the estuary
i'm growing stronger again,
when i wanted to be softer.
bunching up, drawing in,
when i wanted to lose my edges,
dissolve a little, unconfine.
but this river needs riverbanks
and the only structure strong enough
to contain this torrent
is a canyon. deep and sheer and stone. flecked
with hidden undercuts and wild ferns.
this water simply will not slow,
will not gentle, will not turn
from flood to rain.
i can change, but i cannot
unbecome. and so
i am too strong for you. too fast,
too hard. too uncontained.
this river needs riverbanks and you are
a floodplain, a marsh, a tidal
estuary in which i lose myself,
unfocus, come apart. i rush in
where you invite me, spread my rapid
waters in your channels, feed you
everything i've got. and
i uproot small trees in passing, and am
ultimately unwanted. too much,
too fast, too strong. and so i am
leaving. i am finding the fastest
smoothest channel out of here.
reclaiming my power dispersed
in your soft expanses and soggy apologies.
i cannot save you and now
i will not try.
you cannot contain me and now
i am rebuilding my canyon walls,
picking up speed, muddy floodwaters,
floating tree trunks and all,
and i am not
looking back.

the desert is spare
i want to send you the desert
but the desert is spare.
the abundance she offers is sky,
space.  room to grow, to dry out,
to heal or be stripped bare.
here there are no crowds,
no forests or fogs,
no dense horizons.
you cannot hide, even from yourself.
in this enormous dryness,
cracking thin in the glare,
i overflow. i seep, then spring, artesian.
i uncontain myself, erupt like water,
passionately everywhere.
and the vast and unforgiving desert
absorbs me.  takes it all in,
the drops and the flood and the run-off,
in a torrent of acceptance.
she gives back wildflowers.
she gives back rocky gullies
stripped to the bone.
she gives back the falling
call of the canyon wren
and a sky that changes every second
and tells nothing. 
in a moment, all is silence.
i sit and seep.
nothing has changed; the wind
picks up a dervish of sand,
stirs the chamisa and creosote bush,
and lets fall.
i fall with it; the silence
allows me. this
is the desert i would send you: this
vast, silent acceptance.
wind on the mesa and the sharp
pungent creosote
beneath a sky that stares back at you
and never blinks
and never reveals
what she knows. 

to say, you are meeting my needs
is also to say, i have needs and today, you fill them.
it is also to say, i need you.
dangerous ground, the breakwater, the undertow
land pulling out to sea.
i need you also means,
i need for you to need me.
and if not, then what?
from breakwater to heartbreak,
casual catastrophe.
it happens every day.
as does love. as does need.
any easier way to say it
is only a way around it,
edges evading the center.
the wave falls regardless.
the heart falls, breaks, heals.
or it doesn’t. the causal catastrophe,
fear’s root.

Kat Heatherington is a queer ecofeminist poet, sometime artist, pagan, and organic gardener. She lives south of Albuquerque, NM in Sunflower River intentional community, Kat’s work primarily addresses the interstices of human relationships and the natural world. She has one book, The Bones of This Land, printed by Swimming with Elephants Publications in fall 2017, available on and through SwEP, as well as several self-published chapbooks, available from the author at [email protected] Her work can be read at