A slip of the tongue. A buzz on my lips. We talk on the phone, but she no longer hears me. She is an ocean away. Try to say, There is no other, but she believes in something tantamount to gravity, a vivid diagram of futures unspent. Barely a pulse like the night I was driving. At a stoplight the music crumbled to static. We waited for the light to change. Plans were made to end in dust. Continents of space. She looked at me and said, We don’t know what it means to ache. Now I only know what it is to see her in films I never finish. Something in the mystery, like a cold apple from the fridge. Sliced in bits, the juice drips. Pause the screen, trace the red lips of the heroine. She wears a sweater torn at the elbows, smoke curls from her nose. I never learned to French inhale, never learned French, never learned to truly want. It cannot be that such a forgotten song remains in my skull morning after morning. Does she still hear it? It can be undone, but it cannot be hung on a line. There is no cure for these sine waves. They ripple ad infinitum, like the call of mourning doves lost in the mist, lost in their own devotion.
Brendan Gillen is a writer in Brooklyn, NY. His work appears, or will appear, in HAD, X-R-A-Y, Expat, South Carolina Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. He earned his MFA from the City College of New York. You can find him online at bgillen.com or on Twitter/Instagram @beegillen.
Portrait Under a Full Moon
Backlit clouds, our faces lined
with the glow from our phone screens, upturned
until the third round of drinks.
Brim can only contain so much reflected
light. Spotlit and pregnantly paused, I counted
the sloped backs of my teeth. Just enough
moonshine to begin fiddling with my zipper,
closing the space between, where a man was
provoked by my loose wrists,
tugged at them until I swung my leg over
his lap, moon-blanched and dripping
with sticky silver superstition.
I am working on my eye-contact.
Outside some human howls at the moonset.
This I must see for myself.
On one of the last nights
in Ann Arbor, just before
leaving for Guangzhou,
I stood outside in the rain
because it suddenly smelled
and I was breathing
it in again and again, trying
to print the shock of it
onto my bones, my go-bag
of organs—heart, lungs, stomach
all permanently packed
for future departures—all
at once throbbing for stillness,
a moment to relive this
of scent and memory
and chill and water.
Adriana Rewald (she/her) is a writer and translator who was born in Detroit and raised in Warsaw, Poland. She received her MFA from Hollins University and her poetry has appeared on poets.org and in Artemis, Toho, Poets Reading the News, and High Shelf, among others. Her work as an international school teacher has taken her to South Korea, Serbia, and, currently, China. Find her on Instagram at @adriana_rewald.
I place one foot into the lake, and then the other. Not a single ripple spreads outward. The water remains glassen as it takes my form. I plunge my body in, turn over, and watch the clouds swirl overhead. It starts to rain, my eyes notice every single drop plunk into me. Each one sounds like the moss that grows on my hands and each one spreads like the vines circling my fingers. I drink the water into myself and fill my belly. I drink and drink until, full, it bursts. My heart expands and contracts with water, grows solid and sinks to the bottom, a stone. The strands of my hair sprout tails, gills, fins, swim into the deep. Fingernails and toes dissolve and algae blooms with their taste. the final parts inside of me billow out, silt stirred from the bottom, a mushroom cloud. only my face sits atop the water, floating still, watching the rain melt me away. Nose, lashes, freckles, catch in the wind, fluffy white seeds lift into the air, and drift away, home.
Chloe Feffer (she/they) is a queer writer, educator, and program coordinator for Lambda Literary. They grew up in the Mountains of Upstate New York and is now based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The B’K, Stonefruit, Sledgehammer Lit, JADEN mag, and elsewhere. Follow them on Instagram @oh_chlo + Twitter @compooterbaby.