Mother’s Day Issue
Editor | Susannah Jordan
Authors retain all rights and copyright to their works. No part of this publication
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without express
permission from the authors.
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division: George Grantham Bain Collection.
“East Side Babies” [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]. Digital image.
Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/
Shark | 11
Abigail Pearson is a 22-year-old queer writer of novels and poetry. She has a black cat that she loves to
cuddle with as she drinks tea and reads Dostoyevsky. Abigail has published poetry collections and
short stories, including her latest work, A Mad Woman’s Voice (https://payhip.com/b/A47O).
She resides in Eugene, OR.
Omen | 12
Kerry Campion de Santiago is an English teacher from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She writes short stories
and poetry and is currently editing her first novel. She lives in Valladolid, Spain with her husband.
Yet Somehow Still There | 14
Claire Peasegood is a full time working mum. She is the Head of English in a secondary school in Barnsley.
She has been teaching English for 14 years and has always loved reading, studying, teaching and, more recently,
writing poetry; particularly when going through a difficult time. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband,
their 7 year old daughter, and their little border terrier.
Miscarriage with My Mother | 16
Jacqueline Kirkpatrick is a writer from Albany, NY. She has been published in The Rumpus,
Creative Nonfiction, and Thought Catalog. Recently, her piece “The New Unnatural,” was published
in Nasty! - a collection of work by female writers with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. You
can follow her on IG: @thebeatenpoet or jacquelinekirkpatrick.com.
Fear Is a Walk Through Immovable Trees | 18
Linda Dove holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature and teaches college writing. She is also an
award-winning poet, and her books include, In Defense of Objects (2009), O Dear Deer, (2011), This Too
(2017), and the scholarly collection of essays, Women, Writing, and the Reproduction of Culture in Tudor
and Stuart Britain (2000). Poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Robert H. Winner
Award from the Poetry Society of America, and she is editor of the online literary magazine, Moria. She
lives with her human family, two Jack Russell terriers, and three backyard chickens in the foothills of Los
this golden age | 20
Allie Marini is a cross-genre writer holding degrees from both Antioch University of Los Angeles & New
College of Florida. She was a 2018 Shitty Women in Literature nominee, and has been a finalist for Best of
the Net and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her masthead credits include Lunch Ticket, Spry Literary
Journal, and Mojave River Review. She has published a number of chapbooks, including Pictures from the
Center of The Universe (Paper Nautilus, winner of the Vella Prize) and Southern Cryptozoology: A Field
Guide to Beasts of the Southern Wild (Hyacinth Girl Press, finalist for the SFPA’s Elgin Award) In addition
to her work on the page, Allie was a member of Oakland’s 2017 National Slam Team. A native Floridian
now freezing to death in the Bay Area, Allie writes poetry, fiction, and essays. Find her online:
Eighth Month Swelter | 21
Caroljean Gavin started her MFA at The New School and finished it up at Queens University of
Charlotte. Her work has appeared in the 2011 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology, The Doctor T.J.
Eckleburg Review, The Ampersand Review, and Winston-Salem, NC’s Poetry in Plain Sight. She
is currently working on a novel, a story collection, and on becoming a librarian.
The whistle is missing from my life jacket | 22
Victoria Richards is a journalist and writer. In 2017/18 she was highly commended in the Bridport
Prize, came third in The London Magazine short story competition and second in the TSS flash
fiction competition. She was also shortlisted in the Lucy Cavendish Prize 2018 and longlisted in
the Bath Short Story Award and the National Poetry Competition.
Born Crying Sparkles, & Other Girl-Myths | 23
Audrey T. Carroll is a Queens, NYC native currently pursuing her English PhD at the University of
Rhode Island. Her obsessions include kittens, coffee, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her work has
been published or is forthcoming in Fiction International, The Fem, Luna Luna, and others. Queen of
Pentacles, her debut poetry collection, is available from Choose the Sword Press. She can be found at
http://audreytcarrollwrites.weebly.com and @AudreyTCarroll on Twitter.
The Motherless Queen Mother Speaks | 24
Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Midwestern Gothic, Wicked Alice, Southern Florida
Poetry Journal, Yes Poetry, Crab Fat Magazine, Up the Staircase, and elsewhere. She was named a finalist
for the Mississippi Review 2018 Prize Issue and was the winner of the 2017 Gulf Stream Summer Contest
Issue. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press.
Find her at jen-rouse.com and on Twitter @jrouse.
Emilia | 25
Eileen Chong is a Sydney poet who was born in Singapore. She is the author of six books, the latest being
Rainforest from Pitt Street Poetry. Her work has shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award, the Victorian
Premier’s Literary Award, and twice for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.
Find her online: www.eileenchong.com.au
A Tribute to Pumping | 26
Eloísa Pérez-Lozano writes poems and essays about Mexican-American identity, motherhood, and
women’s issues. She graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in psychology and an M.S. in
journalism and mass communications. A 2016 Sundress Publications Best of the Net nominee, her work
has been featured in The Texas Observer, Houston Chronicle, and Poets Reading the News, among others.
She lives with her family in Houston, Texas.
Night Sounds (1/81) | 28
Judith Rodgers is a writer of poetry and plays. When she is not creating she teaches surgical nursing in
The Full Night | 30
Syche Phillips’ fiction has appeared in Burnt Pine Magazine, The Penmen Review, Mused, Mash Stories,
Synaesthesia Magazine, and more. Her short plays have been produced around the San Francisco Bay
Area. She lives two blocks from the beach with her awesome husband and two cute kids, works at a
theatre company, and blogs at sychela.com.
Handmade | 32
Amy Alexander is a poet and mother of a son and daughter. She live with her husband and children in
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her writing has appeared in many journals, including Quarterly West, The Coil,
and The Cream City Review. Her birth art has been featured at the Baton Rouge Gallery, and she has also
led birth art workshops for expectant and new mothers. Her artwork can be found throughout this issue.
A Turtle Carries its Home On Its Back | 34
Jacquelyn Bengfort was born in North Dakota, educated at the U.S. Naval Academy and Oxford University,
and now resides in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Gargoyle, Storm
Cellar, District Lines, matchbook, CHEAP POP, The Fem, Jellyfish Review, and numerous anthologies,
among other places. She was a finalist for SmokeLong Quarterly’s 2017 Kathy Fish Fellowship and The
Iowa Review’s 2016 Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans, and currently holds a poetry fellowship
from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Find her online at www.JaciB.com.
Long Arms | 36
Maureen Langloss is a lawyer-turned-writer living in New York City. She serves as the Flash Fiction Editor
at Split Lip Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, Pithead Chapel, Sonora Review, Wigleaf,
and elsewhere. In 2017, her work was nominated for Best of the Net and was a finalist in the Glimmer Train
Very Short Fiction Contest, as well as the Gigantic Sequins Flash Fiction Contest.
Find her online at maureenlangloss.com or on Twitter @maureenlangloss.
In the Garden | 40
Beatriz “Bea” Alamo (pronounced BAY-ah) is an illustrator & writer from St. Augustine, FL. She received a
B.F.A in Illustration with a minor in Creative Writing from Savannah College of Art & Design in March
2015. Currently, she is an art instructor for children, ages ranging from four years to twelve and older, but
hopes to write & illustrate her own book one day. You can find her personal work at www.beaalamo.com.
A Colleague Says I Can’t Be A Good Teacher | 42
Emma Bolden is the author of House Is An Enigma (forthcoming from Southeast Missouri State UP),
medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press, 2016), and Maleficae (GenPop Books, 2013). The recipient of a 2017 Creative
Writing Fellowship from the NEA, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best Small
Fictions, and such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, New Madrid,
TriQuarterly, the Indiana Review, Shenandoah, the Greensboro Review, and The Journal. She currently
serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly.
Laborynth | 17
Waiting to Inhale | 29
Farmer’s wife, ironing in the kitchen | 35
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection,
The New York Public Library. “Farmer’s wife, ironing in kitchen.”
The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1860 - 1920.
The Bridge | 39
Howl | 45
Shark | Abigail Pearson
In my dreams I am a shark
Long in body
Sleek in mind
A fin gracing the ocean
My third eye tells me I am not
I am most like a mother
Warm and soft and comforting
I don’t mind the illusion
I just mind this body of mine-
The empty womb that mocks me
Blood tinted water
Another moon passing me by
I am holding myself together with twine
Watching hopes break upon the shore.
Omen | Kerry Campion de Santiago
We cradle a palmful of
little black seeds. I expect them
to jump - like fleas. But they
stay flat; dead.
They clot together in a
bulbous mass like a
tumour, sticky and clumpy
in our damp hands.
We scrape them off - and watch
as they plummet to their glass
coffin. We dump some soil
on top: burying them alive.
After a month their tendrils,
their spindly little limbs, remain
unsprouted. Their soft heads uncrowned.
They need moisture
So you cloister their world in cellophane
to make it rain inside. You’ve covered
the mouth of their universe which
gapes open like a moon.
I’m reminded of a child with
a plastic bag over its head
frantically gulping -
I feel my stomach for kicks.
Yet Somehow Still There | Claire Peasegood
I’ll never forget it
Lying down on the scanning chair
Tummy full of nervous anticipation
And what I’d hoped was life, love, my baby bear.
The cold gel, the pressure
Followed by the earth shattering silence
That’s so loud it bursts your eardrums
Then the inevitable…
Those three words…
“I’m so sorry…”
Then three more…
“There’s no heartbeat.”
A flood of emotions:
Anguish, Denial, Despair.
The instinctive protective hand to my tummy
To comfort the child I had grown to love and make plans for
Before the cold, unwelcome, horrifying realisation that
Yet somehow still there.
For now at least. Before the long and painful farewell
And the emptiness that nothing can fill.
Yet somehow still there,
Inside my heart forever,
Goodnight little one.
Always know that you are loved.
Miscarriage with My Mother | Jacqueline Kirkpatrick
A mobile overhead
clowns on tricycles
I squeeze her fingers in mine
I apologize when I hear her knuckles crack
She tears up
says she loves me
holds me gently
Ten hours listening to a pulse
that only whispers my name
She sits beside me
Laborynth | Amy Alexander
Fear Is a Walk Through Immovable Trees | Linda Dove
at the botanic garden, Claremont, California
It is the wolf
with the yellow wing
in its eye. No.
It is more like a blister of sap,
pinecones blown across
the garden. In the grove,
the oaks don’t lose their leaves
and can’t be moved by law.
Instead, it turns its attention
to the brevifolia, the brief leaves
of the Joshua Trees
that bend to the ground like we do
to read the signs—or, maybe,
like time does. Time is relative
here. It has no use for us.
It will turn down our words,
having others. In this fairytale
garden, it reminds us
of the fairytale child
we almost had. She was going
before she arrived, when
we would have named her
after a tree—
She is the ghost
we might see in the water
if we pass by a pool,
where we might want
to assume a bottom
since some depths echo
the unstarred sky.
But back to the wolf,
visiting today in the gardens,
standing at the edge of everything—
like the wolf, it is always
a matter of degree.
It is the paws staked in the dirt,
and the snow-blind coat,
and also the eye
that moves under water like a gold coin.
this golden age | Allie Marini
one of the Dutch Masters,
rendered me as a still life on canvas:
with strokes in dry brush,
a spinster’s silhouette
by distended bellies
or mother’s milk.
Eighth Month Swelter | Caroljean Gavin
Backyard dogs bark at lightning bugs.
Closed windows do nothing.
My bed is my aching island,
Kicked off, wadded up blankets bluff the edge, still,
Heat rises, rises, rises off my skin,
And the ceiling fan blows it back down in.
Even the son inside is restless
Rolling and rippling,
Tossing and turning,
Swearing and sobbing.
Even he can feel the devil hanging in the humidity.
We are being patient.
We are waiting, waiting, waiting for
That cool hand to deliver us from summer.
The whistle is missing from my life jacket | Victoria Richards
When he is born he is piscine slippery, grey and unearthly.
Black-button eyes frozen by shock-sudden roaring, suckerfish
caught in dull, red slip-stream. He ducks and slaps, blows
bubbles, panic-pulls blue cord that binds and breaks us
and I can’t believe he’s here. Is he okay? Is he breathing?
I rest my head against the rim and wait for someone to shout
– man overboard –
Born Crying Sparkles, & Other Girl-Myths | Audrey T. Carroll
I started carving a place for you in this world before
confirmation of your existence, before the dream where we
giggled & played on the floor as the sunlight blessed us both
in softness, before a black & white screen endorsed your girlhood.
Carving is necessary when the mold is built one-size, no
customization conceded, like hand-me-down socks with hearts
cuffing the ankles, & I knew—whoever you were—I wanted you
to be able to sport tutus while inventing stories with dinosaurs
because I was allowed one, my brother the other, & it nearly
strangled the life out of us both even with my still-surviving
pink obsession & love of florals (because the combat boots
& AC/DC were never invited out to play, didn’t exist, locked
away in a corner rust-haven of a closet where the scraps
that didn’t fit the template were sent until they accepted their
irrelevance). I sharpen my tongue in anticipation of every illadvised
decree that you should be offered tiaras & pointe
shoes only (that lightsabers are for boys, that girls don’t like
science & should go, regardless of interest, paint a rose instead)
because I heard that every time, because I know the asphyxia
of forced-upon lace, of ruffles coiling like cobras around childsized
& I will always let you choose.
The Motherless Queen Mother Speaks | Jen Rouse
She is my daughter
I am not your daughter
She reflects my submerged emotions
like distortions in molten glass
You cradle my suffering
in the belly of each full embrace
She split from me like a hive in spring
I was and will never be yours
to split from
She will never let me go
You must let me go
She belongs to a lineage of complicated queens
and I belong to no one
Emilia | Eileen Chong
The babies made me invincible.
Invincible, Maggie Smith
Her eyes (still grey, blue, and green) search
mine out. I meet her gaze, then hold her.
She bobs her head at me, and I lower mine
in return. Our foreheads meet and cleave.
I tilt her backwards, my hand cradling her neck,
then lift her towards me, and tilt her again.
She clings to me—freedom and safety,
safety and freedom. It is a game she knows,
and she smiles, and smiles. Her laughter,
a talisman; her eyes, a ward. She sees me,
and so I exist. I am here, and I suffer.
Soon she will go, and my love with her.
I wake to the smell of milk. The hungry
mouth. The animal grip of her clenched fists.
A Tribute to Pumping | Eloísa Pérez-Lozano
I resist and resent you at first
your plastic parts and tubes
your motor that provides
the motion picture soundtrack
of milky metronome to
my 20-minute movie thrice a day.
Your suction is less subtle than
my son’s enthusiastic gulps
your mechanic tugs do their job
without hormones or emotion
as milk collects, drop by drop
a means to a motherly end.
A sign of three meager months
a leave deemed generous here
but seen as a pathetic pittance
elsewhere, barely enough time
to take in the smiles and laughter
just starting to fill my senses.
Ever so slowly, your sucking
becomes soothing to my ears,
rhythmic reminders to sit still
in the midst of work’s whirlwinds
invitations to breathe, read, write
my words and thoughts untouched.
You give me time with me
creative space to flesh out ideas
poems put on hold, ready
to spill forth, taking shape
when you render me
inaccessible to all outside.
No longer an annoying daily chore
I clean your parts with care
taking my time to rinse them gently
as I realize that through this routine
the mom and poet in me rejoice
simultaneously safe from sacrifice.
Night Sounds (1/81) | Judith Rodgers
I wake to the sounds of night.
The gentle, old dog snores softly in the corner.
My husband breathes the heavy, regular sounds
Of sleep at my shoulder.
A car moves slowly past outside
With the splash of last night’s rain.
I rise quietly and pad through the ancient, creaking house
To where the twins lay sleeping.
One child murmurs and turns himself over.
Within me, another child rolls, wriggles, kicks,
Waiting silently for the time when she, too,
May breathe gently into the night.
Waiting to Inhale | Amy Alexander
The Full Night | Syche Phillips
I should sing the praises of the easy nights–
The kid sleeps 7 to 7,
Splayed in 70 different positions.
His pursed lips breathe easily, softly,
Starfish hands open and close,
Searching, in sleep, for Legos, for blankets, and apple juice,
Or maybe, for things out of reach during the day:
The blinds, our phones, the coffee maker.
He sleeps face up, legs spread, arms outreached,
Looking longer than I could ever imagine he’d be at 1 year, 23 months.
Or he sleeps on his stomach,
Cute rump in the air, hands fisted in blankets.
Or he sleeps on his side, using a lovey as a pillow,
Small fists up as if playing air violin.
However he sleeps,
He sleeps well, and deeply,
And I’ve gotten spoiled by these 12-hour stretches
Where I can trust he’s safe and secure.
I should sing the praises of these nights—
Of standing over him in the light spilling from the hallway
While I stoke his palm and will it to close reflexively on my finger,
Or brush back the dream-damp curls from his forehead.
I touch him unrestrainedly because I trust he will sleep through it.
My little sleeping beauty, my sleeping beau,
Repeatedly giving me the gift of my own full night of sleep.
I should sing the praises more often.
I should sing them while they last.
Handmade | Amy Alexander
After the son,
my hands wept for loss of clay
then, after the girl, they forgot the feeling.
Their new calling was cloth swaddling waste,
a foul swan bound for the sewer
took the statue’s place,
and there would be no more faces, no more figures,
broad hips with folded arms
I was the fertility idol, now, only flaccid
I made, in my mind, a sculpture of a woman,
whole on one side,
hole on the other,
full and then empty, cause that’s how I felt
Without time or energy for clay,
I filled a Mason Jar with pieces of Barbie and Baby Alive,
I snapped them apart at the joints and divided their plastic minds from their plastic bodies,
they smiled through the warped glass,
day and night, they smiled, they were empty but they looked full
I wrote, “I am disassembled,”
I wrote, “I don’t recognize myself.”
I wrote, “I dreamed a house at the edge of the desert.”
I wrote, “the animals are all drowning.”
My studio filled with voices as the children grew,
voices and the mothers they belonged to,
all of our materials were non-toxic but we told truth,
pastel mandalas pressing hard,
life apart at the seams in abstract, water based,
nests out of mud and sticks from the backyard,
breast milk and crayons on a sheet of cotton
stitches putting back the bodies
finding old hands
A Turtle Carries its Home On Its Back | Jacquelyn Bengfort
and for that I admire it. Still, above all else,
I want a laundry room.
No, hear me out.
In such a room, with beautiful large machines,
we could wash, oh, anything out of our sheets.
In a room like this, in a house like that,
we could start each day fresh,
unwrinkled, stainless, blameless.
You know, I had my kids in the middle
of a city and I’m looking for someplace to run to.
Try this: list all the things you want
to run from. Where do you end up?
Nowhere on earth is my answer,
though on a good day I may laugh,
Canada. On my best days I think,
A snug little house with a laundry room,
now, that could be a start.
Farmer’s wife, ironing in kitchen.
Long Arms | Maureen Langloss
I come from a long line
Of mothers with homemade
Sugar cookies in the
Cupboard. God at the table.
My kid’s sewing machine lives
On our table—with the takeout.
I don’t know how to use it.
Also, my vintage MacBook
Pro. Half-drunk cups of tea
forgotten between paragraphs
and swear words. I aspire to angel food
cake under glass—
a single slice removed, angels
exposed, singing hymns, making it
more inviting than cake already,
by birthright, is. I aspire to lemons—
in transparent bowls—
casting their fresh citrus goodness,
their tart suggestion of French 75,
of pucker. Maybe limes too.
Limes and daisies in vases. Separate vases. Matching
furniture would be nice. Bedside tables of equal size.
I do have piles on
mismatched tables though. Maybe
there are pictures of lemons
or daisy poems
or descriptions of baked goods
hidden like prayers in the
piles of literary magazines and
Real Simples and novels I’ve read to page 33
and catalogues from which I might purchase
seam-free socks for my kid who has this sensation
problem, this processing complaint, involving
seams, that turns her all monster, that makes
piles of tears come out before the shoes go on. Hug. Hug.
There are piles of drafts on tables too. Stories poems
essays novels rambling walking kinda slow. Twitchy. Covered with
pencil marks over margins under knickers
behind ears like washcloths across baby skin. I’ve surely already inputted
these revisions in the MacBook Pro, deleted them again, had them declined by
the Submittable machine. Still, I save them next to piles of rainbows. Dozens of
magic marker drawings, light separated into parts, because my kid with the seams has
rainbow rainbow rainbow issues too. There’s probably a pharmaceutical to treat her addiction
already in the piles of medicine boxes we’ve saved from the forty sick days my kids accumulated
this year, saved with the instructions on pages so thin
they slice me. Then there’s my middle child’s book: The Secret Life of Parents.
I wonder what she knows.
She writes paragraphs and erases them, puts pages into out of into piles. She gives me a kiss. My
husband adds packing materials for all the things he might return or store, for the pains and angers I’ve
caused him that he tosses on the piles too, kiss kiss, which are now wobbling with the weight of my
son’s report cards from the school that gives him tests tests tests so long they take more than a day and
come home wound-up in scrolls to hide the grades, tests for which I give hugs, make flashcards, type
practice tests with irregular verb conjugations state capitals poems by dead white guys—which nuzzle
up against stacks of shrink bills for the stress the insomnia the shit fuck damn those dead white guys and
this living white mom
inflict on him. I’ll never tidy these piles because they’re the kind of mom I am, the dusty, limping sort
who grows long arms with suction cup fingers to keep them all from toppling and hugs all around and
lukewarm water in the bath, at least twenty in progress on Submittable and email lists for that
class mom job they keep giving
and I keep accepting, accepting.
The Bridge | Amy Alexander
In the Garden | Bea Alamo
My mother tends to her garden
early on Saturday morning
before the sun
slips in through the trees.
I happen to be awake at this time
(I can never sleep well
at home nowadays)
and I walk out
to the far side of the backyard,
where her flowers bloom.
She whispers their names
into each of their petals
that ache from too much sleep,
then pours them a glass of water.
When she goes on
about her flowers to me,
I am angry at the way she talks
because I can’t speak fluent Spanish with her,
and I am jealous of her laugh lines
because they weren’t there
before I left home.
She taught me the meaning of
It means too much,
like when there’s a perfectly good chair
sitting across from mine at the dinner table
that my mother refuses to fill or move,
even after ten years.
you can’t use mucho there. There’s a difference.
‘Te amo mucho, pero duele demasiado.’”
Is that what she meant when my brother left his body in the hospital room?
Is that why she cares more for her flowerbed than her own?
But she is glowing now,
she is not empty anymore,
so I don’t dare ruin this for her.
A Colleague Says I Can’t Be A Good Teacher | Emma Bolden
because I can’t feel, can’t love the way I should
because I didn’t have children (she doesn’t say
can’t) & shock lays its silence in my mouth, an unyolked
egg, & so I sit in my quiets while the meeting
buzzes around me, all the mouths munching their cottage
cheese & canned peaches & romaine leaves working
against silence like a movie, I refuse to cry, I refuse to
hate her, I refuse to speak because there’s no
way to word the drive back home after the blood
tests & questions, after I’d signed to acknowledge
the risks of hysterectomy, after a Chevy stopped in
traffic beside me & I looked into a window & then
into the eyes of a child, pigtailed & big toothed &
waving & then I wasn’t driving just arriving in the far
lane then the gas station where I cried while a sign
offered my tires air for twenty-five cents, because a life
is a ledger that won’t reveal its losses, because it took
months for the organs in my abdomen to settle
into the empty my surgeon made of the place
my uterus had been but no baby became mine to
have or to hold, because a plan is just a list to which
your body must agree, because even if she knows
the facts she doesn’t know how it hits me
on a Monday through Sunday, in stadiums &
grocery stores & exit lanes & televisions, how
every story rises its action to the same resolution,
which is no, which is not, un-, none, & how many
years will I be there, here, in this classroom with this
cottage cheese, with the bright peeling off the overhead
lights & falling onto the whiteboard where I will never
stop seeing the math lesson she’d scrawled for her
students (less than, less than, less than) until the bell
rings & the outside becomes a bright I can’t believe
still lives, still lights the children so beautifully
into a recognition of my never that I wait in
the stall & don’t cry until all their impossible sweet
small shoes squeak out of the bathroom & then I can’t
stop it, the loss delivered of me so loud & clear & high.
Howl | Amy Alexander