Can Opener

When I think about you trying to open me

I think of a can of tomato soup

It’s the only thing you can afford when you’re so broke

You let strangers into your body.

I think of my can opener, how I can never find it in the gore of underused utensils.

I think of the rust of its blade and how it takes me several tries to open

the can.


You tell me I need to relax,

To lay down,

To live in the moment

But I don’t know how to.

I’ve never done any of those things well because uncertainty feels

Like parachuting into a volcano.

And I can’t relax around people I know let alone someone I just met,

You say I’m scared and you are so right.

I’m scared of what comes after a night when the stars have been plucked out the sky.

Scared of your body like it’s a war zone and every bone could be my murderer.

Scared of love because I know I will break and I know you won’t hear me fall.


In the morning, you are still here but I am not mad because an empty bed hurts more than my tender flesh.

I grab my blanket from the floor and wrap it around you.

I walk to the kitchen and wash my hands that had become arthritic from pushing you away.


I sit on the couch and drink cheap coffee.

I curl my toes into my feet and shut my eyes.

And I act like this has not happened this time or any time before,

Like when my eyelids close, there is a pulsing light,

scanning the waves for life

in this dark ocean.

Katelyn Durst

Katelyn Durst

Our second poet-in-residence, Katelyn Durst, is a community artist, creative activist, teacher and youth worker. She has worked within urban youth development and urban community development for ten years and has taught poetry for six years, recently conducting poetry therapy workshops at a youth psychiatric hospital and Freedom Schools summer programming in a workshop focused on healing from the unjust deaths of youth of color. Katelyn is currently pursuing a master’s in Urban Studies and Community Arts from Eastern University with a focus on trauma-informed art-making to build sustainable and transformative resiliency within urban/inner-city and displaced communities. In her spare time, she dreams of becoming an urban beekeeper.
Katelyn Durst

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