Barren whelk shell— flesh, / warm and enviable, once. Whorled / scars ravish bleached calcium. // Is there a conspiracy? I ask my best friend who laughs too quickly. / We’re walking along Priscilla Beach two weeks beyond my mastectomy. // The Atlantic, too, has a story spilling fast beneath its veneer— vast / current, forging this island where I nurse from stapled fruit.
Except the baby is right here / breathing in my arms. // My body is just a whole different body / ligaments longer, softer / stretched by 40%, my doctor said, / ruined.
I pull the tape measure taut / against my daughter’s spine / run it around her forehead, / her chest, down her arm / marking numbers onto quick / outline penciled on a scrap / of paper as she stands tall // and still.
Silence sanctioned with bird’s song. / Sandalwood smoke oscillates snake-like / from altar into air. // Gong resounds, a break! A break! / Stealthily, I check my phone, the screen / displays: Car totalled.
…I think of all the plain things // I love. A room without music. / A fresh flat duvet laid on the bed. // An unset table. I put the bracelets / in their box. They jangle // In the cotton nest.
The near-full moon is shining through thin clouds and thick / leaves of the old magnolia. / We pace the short stretch of sidewalk, down and back
Kristin Bartley Lenz
I huff into her room, hackles / raised, determined / to confiscate / that damned device, but / she smiles, pats her bed. / I stretch out beside her, slump / into her pillow, a puff / of strawberries and sweat.
Mother braved the ward with a bag of blue plums / while you ran to ground like a hunted fox. // Blood pulsed in dark flanks over far fields, / a mess of costive roots, the sky sweating salty rain. // I could eat no plum, nor any stone fruit.
Lisa M. Hase-Jackson
His standing barefoot on my doorstep / on a ten-degree day in the middle / of a Kansas winter is what made me forget / boundaries or calling cops, therapists, // or social workers and opt instead / to give up the couch to my otherwise / homeless son.
Tricia Friesen Reed
I didn’t stop until she begged to get out, / to step off the path to / grab a handful of Saskatoon berries, / to stand by the pond and yell / over the deafening chorus / of red-wing blackbirds, / to pinch off wild chamomile flowers and stick them up her nostrils / like an old woman inhaling smelling salts.
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