By Kerry E.B. Black
My children stir, wiggle beneath the duvet, tiny stretches too early. I encourage them to rest. Ancestral wisdom looks to a groundhog and its shadow for prognostication, and although the rodent’s seldom right, this year deserves prudence. The air’s too cold. Frost leaves the ground glistening.
However, the young are easily misled by the urine-yellow sunrise. They point to a sky stained with nursery pinks and declare their day’s arrived. The push aside their downy blanket and burst upon the day, faces radiant as new blooms. I marvel and fret – with good reason, because at sundown, the frost reaps.
The atmosphere had been tense for days and the Threat Level had fluctuated between ‘Moderate’ and ‘Substantial’. Warning signs were clear: skirmishes more frequent, escalating in intensity. It was only a matter of time before disaster struck. That morning it was clear: the situation was deteriorating. By lunchtime the Threat Level was at ‘Severe’, and during the afternoon it rose to ‘Critical’. The world ended at teatime:
“But I wanted the green plate!”
The child wailed, limbs thrashing on the floor.
Later, the child soothed and sleeping peacefully, a toast was drunk to surviving the end of the world – again.
By Mary Ellen Gambutti
Focus of our new basement rec-room, a stylish red mid-century mural depicts dog caricatures in a saloon tended by an aproned shaggy dog. Dad’s laid the red and white checkerboard tile. Mom’s painted turquoise and red stairs and trim. Behind the fully-stocked redwood bar, in a color print dated June, 1955, Dad looks merry wearing a white apron. Broad smiles on Pat, Rose and Myra, Dad’s siblings, they raise highball glasses. The photographer is Mom, and she’s also captured us cousins squished cheek-by-jowl on the grey convertible couch, the mural above us. Were there future rec-room gatherings, I don’t recall.
Mary Ellen’s stories appear or are forthcoming in Gravel Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Remembered Arts Journal, The Vignette Review, Modern Creative Life, A Thousand and One Stories, and more.
By M. Thomas Ellis
I leaned against an old oak
unduly envious of it
and so much more.
I looked up
waited for an autumn leaf to fall
just one for me to focus on
but in its own time.
I was prepared to watch it tumble
end over brittle end
down to the creek below
curious what might happen next.
A breeze coaxed
the right leaf fell
I watched it catch the current
and drift out of sight.
You will always be my muse.
By Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
The morning chill
nipped at my ears
in different languages.
in yesterday’s newspapers
and today’s leaves,
Lonely is a teardrop that never falls.
By Kathy Treny
What is me? I take away my house, I’m still here. I remove my profession, I’m still here. I take away my diplomas, I’m still here. What is me? Teacher, mom, wife, daughter, tennis player, foreigner. What is me?! I remove my kids, I’m still here. I remove Jack, I’m still here. I remove this pen, I’m still here.
I remove it all, I’m still me. Everything that can be removed is not me. Everything I have and do can be removed. (My entire life can be removed.)
I am not my life?
What is left?
By Kelvin M. Knight
He pirouetted through oceanic whiteness, leaving ripples of himself. Drifting through these, she gasped at the softness of his touch. A touch bursting with promise: that dance he’d promised her but she’d always been too busy to accept. Back then. Back there. Where cares were weighty. Where duty outweighed sin. Where their love went unrecognized. Because of him. Because of her. Shuddering, she delighted as his essence entwined with hers. Him. Always him. Her true love. Her guiding light. He was dancing with her. Finally. Undeniably. Swishing skyward, they stirred this whiteness into a home that had always been theirs.