Issue Twenty-Two

The Warbler at the Window

The windows of my sunporch claim at least seven birds a year. I watch a warbler dance in midair, executing a whimsical waltz with its reflection in the glass. Seeing, not seeing. Then, it’s back to. This. My right hand up. Stop. The man across from me, Corbin—his left...

We Are Lucky We Are Here

We thought we were the chosen, called to polish the world and leave it golden, but instead we became radical, helpless, holy but alone. Now we gather in the basement of the Episcopalian Church, stir powdered creamer into burnt coffee and talk about our cults....

To-Do List

Return baby gifts to givers.a. Sift through rubble for boxes and envelopes.b. Call UPS Store to see if it’s still there.c. Pack gifts into red wagon and attach to wheelchair.d. Take Redondo Road, then make a right on Sapulpa to avoid crevasse on Andreas.Sign divorce...

Old Wives’ Tales

I rock and the baby's weeping is a Möbius strip of anguish. Hot moonlight makes squares on the floor. My hands are slick with sweat and Jeremiah's white t-shirt is damp. Once I walked with him, I touched his nose, I sang a song about an inchworm measuring marigolds,...

Swelling

That’s a baby gull, sweetie. A baby gull? Those exist? A slow, guttural laugh. Of course, jaan, Faree. I know, I know – it’s just – I’ve never seen one before; I’ve never seen a baby – A kiss. Blowy, dry, lipsticky. Human.
Tears.
I’ll never –
 Sshh. You’re with me...

River Dreams

Lydia can’t decide what causes what. Is it all because of that one evening when she was nine? Or was everything already fixed in place? Either way, she likes to tell herself the story of Before and After. And she pictures that distant evening as though from the...

Spun Glass

When we were little, Mom took us to Corning, NY to see glass blowers. Glass—hot, liquid—then, solid, clear. Mysterious. She would go anywhere, my mom, set off with real maps, unfolded, her sense of direction not one I inherited.  Once, when my father drove miles...

Old Betsy’s Favorite Reverie

“Thank you for your interest in the Indiana Department of Correction’s Museum. As I am sure you will appreciate the sensitivity of such a topic, the Indiana Department of Correction does not refer to the electric chair by any nicknames.” — Indiana Department of...

I Have a Question

Where were you when I prayed on the way to school? That day. Every day after that day. Were you making copies for our first fifth grade lesson that morning? Were you feeding the machine, your manicured nails tapping at the buttons? Double-sided. Black ink. Fifteen...

Packaged Love

Ingredients Two people (40%), sex (30-10%, the percentage decreases over time due to natural weight-gain), friendship (10-30%, the percentage increases over time due to natural weight-gain), same location (10%, can be replaced by phone or webcam, but only for limited...

After the DJ played our favorite Alan Jackson song

and we picked out faraway places on a map and I dropped out of college, and after he made beef stroganoff in my electric wok when I had the flu and he moved in unexpectedly the next weekend, and after the nurse said “Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” and I saw in her...

Man of the House

Is what they call you, shifting their weight from one leg to the other, maybe sighing, always a little tentative, though sometimes they lean down instead, the women especially love to lean down until they’re pressed against your shoulder so you can smell skin cream...

Shipping & Handling Costs

I’m shipping something overseas and today’s the postmark deadline. We also need tennis balls and a green t-shirt for a school play, so I take my youngest three boys and head to the post office at the mall instead of the one downtown. When we arrive, the line is out...

The Unbearable Inertia of Clothes

My clothes are ready to go—wings tacked on,leather belt snug, holey jeans unfolded, ready for the road or the Australiancane toads layered over it in blanketed miles. Hanging on the edge of flight, my clothesknow better than I which direction to go— run clothes from...

March 3rd, 2005

My dad was arrested for abusing my little brother in the bathroom of our elementary school. I’ve never told anyone this story. Everyone knows this story. - I remember this day clearly. I remember it for the wrong reasons. It was a special day at school. We got to wear...

Mother as Conjunction

Spring 2020 I’ve had daughters move home on their way from one frayed relationship to the unknown. The tear-swollen eyes. The packed hatchback, mauve bedspread smashed against the passenger window. This is different. Two of my grown children are here for the duration....

We Carry Our Father’s Ashes

We gather our father’s ashes from the crematorium, two days after the cremation because by then the ashes and bones have cooled down. We sift through them, find the stent that allowed him to eat for ten days before he passed away. We gather our father’s ashes in our...

Love Poem for Mr. Miyagi

From the first moment I saw you through that screen door,chopsticks in hand, I knew I had finally founda teacher to call my own.You started teaching us from the very beginning.When you turned around and gave Daniel that starewe all knew your first lesson: knock, don’t...

Magic House

I almost ate a live jellyfish once. I was crouching beside my dirty blond cousin on the wet sand. Dustin: Dustin who told me what virgin was. The entire family was getting away from our lives in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and Tennessee; we met at a scrubby campground...

On Fire (Or, Last Wishes)

There is fire on the mountainAnd nobody seems to be on the runThere is fire on the mountaintopAnd no one is a-running —ASA, Fire on the Mountain I wish everyone I love              the joy of dancing naked. Tonight, I am holding a piece of chicken              from...

Don’t Let The Sound Of Your Own Wheels Drive You Crazy

1 You cry each time your father shows up on his court appointed weekends, but you got it out of your system last night in the wee hours, screaming about aliens coming for you, your mom, and your sibling. Streetlight shadows sticking to your skin in a way you couldn’t...

Red Awning

You’re home free when you smell the butter. Just watch your pace between the register and glass doors. Focus on the red awning of the crêperie outside. And take the exit on the left – this she makes me say with her – because it’s the only one not hooked up to the...

Fair and Lovely

we believed the neighborhood voicesthat said fair was most beautiful before they brought the ointmentturmeric, yogurt, and honey your face was buttermilkunder the nightlightthat one sideways molar, a diamond once you fit in your father’s palmswhen you arriveda pink...

Red Flannel Shirts

Donald came to me on a quiet night. I was reading by candlelight. The full moon out the window was big and round like one dead eye. I never liked to be disturbed on such nights, but Donald could wreck me anytime he pleased....

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