Pinky Swear – Jayne Martin

 

The caustic odor of rubbing alcohol burns my nostrils, settles on my tongue. A nurse paints Vaseline on my parched lips. I can’t remember the last time I was kissed.

I am tethered to tubes, encased in a coffin of flesh and bone that ignores all commands.

The growing cries of gulls, boardwalk barkers, laughter and shrieks of excitement begin to flood the room.

I sit in the car of a rollercoaster as it chugs and bumps up the steep incline toward the point of no return. Braver kids raise their arms high over their heads. I squeeze my eyes shut until it’s over; say “I want to go again,” relieved when you do not.

The ocean breeze sends salt and sand up onto the walkway where we smoke cigarettes stolen from my mother’s purse and stroll looking for boys. We make up names, Bridgette and Marilyn. Names that sound older and sophisticated unlike our own. We fool no one.

A pipe organ bellows. With fingers still sticky from cotton candy, we board gaily-painted steeds, ride round and round, each time stretching as far as we dare for the brass ring, each time finding it just out of reach.

Our bodies distort in fun house mirrors and we wonder who we will become.

Pinky-swear friends forever.

We do not anticipate the power of decades to divide.

The nurse rolls my body onto its side to slip a fresh sheet beneath, and I see you next to my bedside. You wear our favorite sweater, the rose one we passed back and forth until it unraveled, your smile still a mouthful of braces, your hand outstretched to me. In it, a brass ring.

 

001Jayne Martin is the 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award for flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Literary Orphans, Midwestern Gothic, f(r)iction, Blink-Ink, Spelk, Cleaver, Connotation Press and Hippocampus among others. She is the author of “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry.” She lives in Santa Barbara, California. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.

New Beginnings – Rachel Bower

 

We are starting again

this wrinkly belly and me

learning how to walk again

and even how to talk

to strangers without

the shield of peach cheeks

and little legs.

 

We are tottering through the retail park

off kilter

but determined to find a latte

and drink it hot this time,

just this time,

even if the milk floods our shirt

even though we’re waddling a bit,

still bruised from birth

and we think of him safe

and scan the tarmac again

without anchor.

 

Our balance is off.

You shrivel in my hollow

as I try to unfurl

and wonder how to tilt on my feet.

 

Only eighteen minutes left

’til we see his starfish hands.

 

We wobble together and smile.

 

Rachel Bower photoRachel Bower is a poet and research fellow at the University of Leeds. Her pamphlet, Moon Milk, will be published with Valley Press in May 2018. She is currently co-editing an anthology with Helen Mort entitled Verse Matters, which is out with Valley Press in November 2017. Her book, Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in August 2017. Rachel’s poems have been published by Stand Magazine, BBC Radio, Now Then Magazine, Valley Press, Three Drops Press, The Stare’s Nest, Pankhearst and others, and she has had poems shortlisted for several prizes, including The London Magazine Poetry Prize and the Plough Prize 2016. She is also the founder of Verse Matters, a feminist arts collective in Sheffield.

Door – Udit Mahalingam

 

The word of a lover.

It is the word of a hinge

That creaks to the sound

Of its own turning.

Hoarse and coarse.

It loves only to lie.

Lie and smile.

 

But, what is a door?

The secluded path

To the past?

A Jetstream of memories…

For me, it’s the way

That leads to a new beginning.

A new face. A new time.

A new lie? A new smile?

 

20170114_123337000_iOSUdit Mahalingam is a teenager from Aughton, a small town on the border between Merseyside and Lancashire. He studies at Merchant Taylors Senior Boys School in Crosby. In addition to writing poetry, he spends his free time mulling over poems from the likes of Sylvia Plath to Robert Barrett Browning. There is never a time when he doesn’t have his nose stuck in a book! He aspires to have a beneficial effect on the world in whatever way possible, whether through voluntary work or through poetry and hopes to study English at degree level.