Upbringing: Poetry by Kaitlyn O’Malley




I was born in a city
Built like its Russian nesting dolls,
Increasing ten-fold in complexity,
Every layer, at its core –
Perplexity is the hallmark
Of someone who breathes the Motherland.

I was born with chai-laced blood
And hair like borscht brewed fresh
From babushka’s garden,
Build sturdy like Taiga birch,
Where forests wrap earth
Like mink coats
Devoted to year long winter.

I was born believing –
Pressed palms and crossed chests
At bedtime for a blessed rest,
Clearing a table place to
Make space for the socially acceptable,
And refusing to upsize
When not everyone could fit.

I was born another dancer
In life’s Bolshoi ballet,
Told to move quick like downtown
Metro cars on crowded weekdays,
Stretching body and mind,
Standing on train platforms,
Waiting to belong
But always riding in the wrong direction.

I was born of two great nations,
With a heart that beat too slow
For the pace of the world,
But a soul powered by right,
Hoping to spread bits of its light
To every Soviet streetlamp.
There yet? Not quite, but
I was born a Muscovite.

Katie O’Malley is an incoming freshman at the University of Florida. Her favorite pieces to write are ones which she can infuse with experiences from her many travels abroad. Aside from poetry, she enjoys writing short stories, plays, and is currently working on a collection of short creative nonfiction memoirs. Katie has had multiple pieces of writing published in the past and her work has been recognized by the national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards at Carnegie Hall, as well as by the John F. Kennedy Center VSA Playwright Discovery Competition in Washington D.C. It was her hope to add FORTH magazine to her list of prior successes.


Poems curated by FORTH poetry editors.

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