Issue Forty-Three – Winter 2024


By Shari Lane

Doorways have always intrigued me—in-between spaces that hold the promise of something . . . different. This doorway looks as though it stands between one marvelous, ivy-garlanded space and another, possibly equally marvelous space. The suggestion of the hallowed halls of a university conjures in me the remembered thrill of every new school year. The hint of golden light peering from just beyond the inner door intrigues me.

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What We’re Reading, Winter 2024

By The Editors

I recently read Sigrid Nunez’s The Vulnerables. (2023 by Riverhead Books). Imagine being a writer in New York City early in the pandemic, wandering the streets in guilty enjoyment, not having to do your regular work, but house sitting for a pregnant friend who is unable to return home in time for her delivery. Add to this the fact that the comfortable apartment is not the only thing that needs care. There is a parrot, Eureka, living in one of the rooms, a young unhoused student with previous connection to the home arrives to stay, and in a moment of compassion you loan your own home to a doctor treating pandemic patients.

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The Edge of Remembering

By Arvilla Fee

Someone once asked me what it was like
to lose my mind; I kid you not, those were
her exact words. She wasn’t unkind, just

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By Rick Kuenning

This house is not a secure redoubt.
The walls are breached, and I hear the
Scrambling rhythm of my rebuilt heart.

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The Performance of Grief

By Claudia Cruttwell

Sitting in the chapel with the coffin in front of us, I suddenly realised the wedding suit I’d given the funeral directors for Frank to wear would be too small. He’d filled out a bit since we were married fourteen years before. I wondered if this was a regular thing at the funeral parlour, trying to squeeze corpses into too tight outfits provided by their loved ones. It made me smile. One last joke with Frank before the flames took him.

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The Invisible Man

By Russ López

And never forget that being invisible kept my abuelo, your great grandfather, from being deported during the Depression. They were grabbing people off the sidewalks of Los Angeles to send back to Mexico. They didn’t care if you were a citizen or not. If they saw a brown person, they put them on a train and sent them south.” As always when she talked about the dead, she crossed herself. “We have long survived by being invisible.”

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The Lost Brother – Part Two

By Adrienne Pine

Jordan came to visit us in New York. I didn’t know what to do with him. We had almost nothing in common. He wasn’t interested in visiting museums or going to plays or taking long walks through the city. His obsession was comic books. He dreamed of accumulating a valuable collection.

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Where All Your Travels End

By Michael Washburn

These visions do not torment you forever, as ever more immediate threats emerge to the tidy reality you made your home, where the river that appealed and beckoned to you had a discrete character and could never, to use a maladroit phrase, overstep its bounds. It is a river and it does what rivers do. The river has summoned you to come to it and if you lived a million years you might not, without the clarity of this dream, envision a scenario where the river comes to you. Now things are more fluid and the water knows no bounds at all . . .

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Peppercorns – The Tiny Fruit

By Susan Little

What could I do but remove the strips from the package and, one-by-one rinse them under the faucet, dry them on paper towels and finally carve off the top part where the pepper was concentrated? That worked well enough, but I must remember to lay in a supply of non-pepper bacon—probably the maple kind—for the next toddler visit. Or maybe I can begin tempting her over to the dark side. Never too early.

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A Change in Rhythm

By Lita Kurth

He lingered by the curtains. A flicker in his pupils told of firelight and sadness. The dark-haired woman shivered. The room, the night, despair: a drink that’s served straight up. She tendered a quivering finger at Johnny in the mirror. His reflection hovered, higher, lower. “It’s one way to escape.”

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By Charlie Brice

So many are attuned to sharps and flats,
timbre, time signatures, and dynamics,
arpeggios, thirds, fifths, and sevenths

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Once Upon a Summer

By Rose Mary Boehm

Handsome and flawless, young, and strong
The one who knew my tunes by heart—
The one who always played my song—
Your touch would break my life apart

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By Lena Fultz

Parker’s caked himself in applesauce again.

Jamie had asked her mother to stop giving him the stupid squeeze packets each time they visited, now that he’s started refusing to eat applesauce from a spoon—only from the packets, even if they cost more at the grocery store. But today, again, as she was buckling her one-year-old son back into his car seat, her mother had come rambling down the front porch steps and shoved another into his grubby hands.

“Just one for the road,” she’d insisted, a semi-innocent smile on her face. “He didn’t eat much dinner.”

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The Littoral Zone

By Margo McCall

When Angie awoke that first morning at Lazlo’s, she left him sleeping and went for a walk on the beach. Sensations bombarded her as she walked barefoot over the damp sand, breathed the dank ocean, felt the vibration of waves crashing in from the other side of the world.

A father and son played paddleball in the mist, their happiness fluttering birdlike in the air. Gray-haired men sat on benches drinking coffee, and another stood motionless as a rock, staring out to sea, ankles buffeted by sea froth.

Angie had the strong sense they were waiting to die, like the beach was some ante room filled with mortal pleasures to keep them occupied while they waited.

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Peach Season

By Kristina Moen

My story begins, as many stories do, with an invitation.

It was summer in Lesotho, and I was in my second year of Peace Corps service as a rural high school teacher. My student Nomonde invited me to see her ancestral village and meet her father. Nomonde is Xhosa, a minority ethnic group in Lesotho, where 99 percent of people identify as Basotho and speak the Sesotho language. I said yes immediately. Nomonde was a shy student, and I was honored that she would ask. We made plans to meet under the weeping willow, a rare spot of shade and grass near school grounds.

Our school was next to a dirt road, ten miles of progress connecting a swath of mountain villages to a paved highway. Walk an hour east from the school, and the road ends at Ha Moseneke, a smattering of round mud huts and stone sheep enclosures. Beyond that, the villages are scattered across the mountains, accessible only on foot or horseback. “My ancestral village is just past Ha Moseneke,” Nomonde had said, “We will go there and back in one day.”

“It will be a lovely walk,” I thought, “I’ll wear my summer skirt.”

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Tide, Be Kind

By Carol R. Sunde

Please return this beached log
loaded with gooseneck barnacles,
back to the sea. See
their writhing necks and fern-like

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By Nina Adel

We couldn’t afford both a mortgage and a new septic system for the two small houses by the stream in the town where we intended to live, so we rented, instead, a big, cold house, its hundred-year-old boards creaking at every sweep of wind.

The two houses had been, together, an affordable deal; in reasonably good shape, and if we’d bought them, we would have had one to rent out and one to live in. All the would-be advisors of my life were saying it was a practical move, as if they didn’t know me at all. Me, a city person who loves the countryside, not an actual country person – that was my husband.

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Cutting for Scent

By James Hessler

As I coasted down the hill in my diesel pickup, I counted the tall poplars that lined the driveway. I loved the poplars’ height, gray bark and manta ray shaped leaves. A spring breeze made the new leaves shimmer silver. I counted one, two, three, noting the height, leaf profusion and density of each poplar. At poplar number fifteen, nearly to the front gate, I looked right, into the west grazing field.

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By Sherry Mossafer Rind

Sun lights the morning
with mild warmth when I gather the dogs
and go outside to feed the chickens.

Fava plants open blossoms like butterflies,
pink and white with velvet black tongues
offering a faint lilac scent when I bend close.

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After Dinner, Atlantis

By Kathleen Holliday

A wine glass sinks, tolling,
an undersea village bell

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All Souls

By Richard Hedderman

The moon had us hoodwinked,
escaping through the branches,

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Oaks Invite Analogies

By Sylvia Byrne Pollack

to sprout take root
grow through many seasons

like a human learning how to be –
the many blows absorbed
the reaching for the sky

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Home Invasion

By Cynthia Stock

Just like a prologue to a novel or the calm before the crisis in a movie, my disaster began. A kind, able, purposeful man, Darren turned eighty-two this year. All the concerns voiced about aging political candidates applied, mental acuity, balance issues, fitness.

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Pink Night Sky

By Jane-Rebecca Cannarella

Fights in multiples a month, the consistency of the painful words almost felt like a friend — a relief when the flood finally occurred.

Anger grows when fed, so I sat in silence. You’re so manipulative. I’m not falling for this act. The words flowed over me, but I thought, we can still salvage the evening.

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Standing at the Edge

By Carol Raitt

My heart feels too large inside me. It is burning. Constricted. I want to rip it out, exorcise the pain. Slam it down on the ground. Kick it away from me. Run from it. Leave it behind to disappear into the detritus beneath my feet and be covered by threads of mycorrhizal fungi and tree roots below the soil of these wise and ancient monarchs.

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A Letter to Henry

By Marco Etheridge

Now Dane McClaire had vanished, leaving Della alone. And in that moment, alone at her desk, she saw the answer. It was as if her alter ego had dropped a parting gift from the heavens.

Write your own story. You can do it. You don’t need me anymore.

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A Cameo Apple

By Soman Qadeer Khan

A cameo apple lived a prosperous life on a farm called Ocean Farm. He grew on a tree which was the pride of the farm, as it was the most magnificent and oldest tree.

The owner’s child named the apple Meo, and loved him mightily.

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The Dream in which Mom Says Just Before Dying, Blink and You Will Miss Me

By David A. Goodrum

I believe you’re still asleep
in the next room. Soon you will

shake me awake to deliver
the news to neighbors.

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Of Blood and Air (a golden shovel)

By Kate Hutchinson

I have no memory of when I became aware I was one—
singular, apart, not-mother. On that day
did I feel fear or exultation?

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Re-reading My Friend Flicka

By Barbara Bloom

I know this boy,
his unhappiness, his stern father,
quiet mother in the kitchen.
What he wants, more than anything,
is a horse of his very own.

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Visual Art

By Judith Connor

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