Sometimes I wave at the birds to remind myself I exist
Sometimes I toggle between the craziness of writing and not writing, working and just staring outside the window, standing outside my children’s bedrooms, hearing them type or talk, play a game. Their breathing.
Sometimes I water the plants in the afternoon, I like to circle back to the same rows several times, the ones under the sun for most of the day. It feels like visiting, revisiting the same dry spots in my body.
Sometimes, in the backyard, I listen to the dogs next door barking, growling at each other, and I realize the need to express, the sound acknowledged with the same ferocity. I look up and there are fewer clouds, socially distant. On the lawn, the squirrels leap, go up and down Buddha’s status not differentiating between his face and legs. Then they stay at one spot, content. The cardinals sit on the bird feeder. A police siren goes off in distance. Everything is open, yet there are no ways to exit.
Sometimes, on the couch, my husband and I are poets, each one of us on our own meter. He talks about not traveling for a year, I am calling out lists of supplies. We’re both speaking simultaneously, throwing our anxieties around, picking them later. Such is the architecture of a relationship.
Sometimes, on several nights in a row, lying in bed, unable to sleep, I watch the moon waxing and waning from our window, its light falling on our sheets, our bed posts, furniture I haven’t dusted in weeks. The moonlight almost covers our pillows, leaving a dark corner, another unfinished thing.
Sometimes, while talking to my colleague on Skype/Zoom, I consume tea after coffee, to lose count, to forge breakfast. To make it a day not like the previous one or the one before.
Sometimes in the morning, during a sun salutation, the light slices through. Makes me want to come into present: choose what I want.
Sometimes I look in the mirror, spot more grey hairs than before. I look harder, and I can hear my hair, slipping into silver.
Sometimes during a conference call for hours, amidst schedules and deadlines, I spill my time into craft essays, exercise prompts. I vow to take risks with my writing, make it an adventure. I scroll through my Twitter feeds my fingers pausing on the videos of protests. I attempt a paragraph. I end up just writing my name.
Sometimes while praying, I think of my fate, the fate of everyone I love. My mother and my mother-in-law overseas, getting older without seeing us for years. I wonder once again if God exists. How he seems like someone who can wait everything out.
Tara Isabel Zambrano works as a semiconductor chip designer. Her work has been published in Tin House Online, The Southampton Review, Slice, Triquarterly, Yemassee, Passages North, and others. Her full-length flash collection, Death, Desire And Other Destinations, is upcoming in September 2020 with OKAY Donkey Mag/Press. She lives in Texas.
A woolly ghost came into the bedroom.
It was 4 a.m. and her oranges were rotting on a counter.
Soft teal orbs. Mosquitoes scalloped the walls.
She called me a sporadic visitor, though my knuckles
were red from knocking. I reminded her
of a conversation from a decade ago
when we were still strident, ambivalent.
I smoothed the bedsheets and the ghost
wailed, all love is the terror kind!
We never went to sleep
we lay busted in the linen
like gunpowder after a bullet,
lovingly held and companioned
despite some apprehension.
Margo LaPierre is a queer, bipolar Canadian poet and editor. Her debut poetry collection, Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes, was published by Guernica Editions in 2017. She is newsletter editor of Arc Poetry Magazine, membership chair of the Editors Canada Ottawa-Gatineau branch, member of poetry collective VII, and a poetry selector of Bywords.ca. Her poetry, reviews, and non-fiction have been published in PRISM, Open Minds Quarterly, filling Station, CAROUSEL, Train Journal, and others. She/her. @margolapierre
Standing on a rock, her hair whipping round her face, she heard gulls and crashing waves, smelt sea air and was six again. If she turned round her dad would be bent over a rock pool, her brother splashing around in sandals. She looked down at gnarled hands folded over the head of her stick and kept her eyes firmly forward.
JY Saville lives and writes in northern England. Her flash has featured in the 2018 National Flash Fiction Day anthology, Truffle Magazine, and Ellipsis Zine, among other places. She blogs at http://thousandmonkeys.wordpress.com/ and tweets @JYSaville
The Thing With Feathers
Angela keeps a collection of angels in a glass jar in her living room.
She heard someone once say, hope is the thing with feathers, so she collects them when walking along the beach, easing the temptation to overfill her pockets with shells and walk fully clothed into the water.
She found her grandfather poking his white feathery head out of the sand, next to a discarded plastic bottle cap. She collects bottle caps too. They clang in the recycling bin, bouncing off the empty bottles of wine she drinks daily. She found her uncle white-water rafting down a concrete drain after a torrential downpour. She put him in the airing cupboard for a while to dry off. Certain he would not mind.
She found her mother while walking in the forest. Watching a bird flit between the trees overhead. Wondering what it would feel like to be so free. Looking down, she saw a perfect feather. More perfect than any feather she had ever seen before. Brown with vibrant flecks of cerulean, giving way to emerald green. Glistening in the flicker of sunlight pouring in as the trees swayed in the breeze.
Angela put her mum in her pocket. She found her there a few days later, squashed. She flattened her out and popped her into the glass jar with all the other angels that have recently floated down from heaven.
Sarah Williams is a published writer and fiber artist who lives in a small, insignificant town in Northland, New Zealand.
A Helpful Child
“Please go to the garden and fetch us some beets,” said the mother. “For that is all we have to eat for supper tonight.”
“Yes, mother,” replied the boy.
“And stay away from that hole. No telling what is down there.”
The boy couldn’t help himself. The hole fascinated him. He went right over to it and looked down into the darkness and could not see the bottom.
“Hello down there. How’s the weather down there?” he hollered down the hole expecting only an echo for his answer.
“Hello up there. It’s wet, cold and dark down here,” came the reply.
“Who are you?” asked the boy.
“I am a fish. I live in a cold underground stream and long to see the light of day, to feel the warmth of the sun, and live in the world above.”
“Fish, I can help you do those things,” said the boy. “I will get a bucket and a rope to haul you up here.”
“Oh, that would be wonderful!” cried the fish.
The boy returned and lowered a rusty old bucket on a rope down to the fish. “Swim into the bucket, and I will pull you out, fish.”
The fish did so. “I am in the bucket. Pull me up, please,” he shouted back.
The boy began to pull on the rope, but the bucket, full of water now, was too heavy, and the boy was only able to raise it a few feet.
“I am sorry, fish, but the bucket is too heavy for me to pull up. What should I do?”
“Just hold it steady,” directed the fish. “The bucket leaks, and I can hear the water running out. Once it is empty you can pull me out.”
The water drained out.
“Now try it,” said the fish.
The boy pulled up the bucket to the world above and therein was the fish gasping for air.
“Put me back,” demanded the fish. “For the sun is too bright, its warmth too hot. I cannot breathe in this place. Shame on you for bringing me here. Put me back before I die.”
“But you asked me to bring you here,” said the boy.
“Now I hate you for doing so!”
“I was only trying to help you!”
The fish cursed the boy then gasped its last breath and died.
“I am sorry you died, fish, but I meant you no harm,” apologized the boy. “But now, because you are dead, you can help me.”
The boy took the fish home and that evening his mother cooked it. They had a meal of fish and beets, a full meal for the first time in a very, very long time.
“You are such a good son,” said his mother. “Catching this fish, so that we could have such a wonderful meal.”
To which the boy replied, “Just being helpful, Mother.”
B. Craig Grafton is a retired attorney who started writing stories for something to do in his ‘rusting’ years. He has had a number of stories published in online magazines and book anthologies and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.