First Available Cousin – Ray Busler

 

It had still been dark when we were called. It wasn’t a pajama run; I was dressed, but still slept a few miles in the car. There were no cousins for me to play with this time. We lived closest, most available for urgency, first on the scene.

I couldn’t wait on the big porch, too much winter for that now. I missed the wooden swing, missed the creaking and mesmerizing motion of the thing. Last summer we rode, four cousins abreast in that swing for hours of false alarm. My oldest cousin told of broken swing chains and loose eye bolts that, in some parallel child universe sent chubby pink tots, not unlike myself, sailing in full pendulant moment, sailing loose in the air before finding the steel spikes of the wrought iron fence well below porch level. A lucky one missed the fence to be only crucified in the mock orange bush. She was saved, as the tale went, by an uncle by marriage, and merely had her eyes gouged out by thorns for her trouble. We cousins loved that swing, relished the idea of it and I longed for the day I could be the oldest cousin and tell the tale, with some improvements that I whetted in idle mental minutes.

Now, it was winter and I waited in stale stifle too near the gas logs in the parlor. When there was a full complement of cousins the parlor was off limits, too many fragile memories to be exposed to the rough usage of youth. One was an acceptable number though. I sat on my hands deliberately avoiding the sensuous feel of Dresden figurines and the other flotsam of irreplaceable family history.

There was, almost lost in the repeating wallpaper pattern of pink roses, a painting – a woodcut really. Japanese, I suppose today, assuming that then future role of older cousin. Blue ink and black, with a touch of red in the eye of a rampant, distant sea risen dragon, an icon of the storm in the foreground. The real hero of the drawing was the wave about to crash down on a frail boat. There could be no possible reprieve from that wave. It was a wave of inevitability. I watched the wave until I could hear a phantom wind, smell spectral salt and rotting squid. I watched the wave until…

“Your Grandmother has passed on.” The words woke me.

“Do you understand? Do you understand what I mean by death? Your Grandmother is dead.”

Of course I understood death. That’s why we were here, wasn’t it?

 

Ray lives in Alabama with his long suffering wife of 40 years. That is to say she is older than 40, but didn’t suffer for the first 20.  Ray writes for the pleasure of the writing, and the joy of inflicting it upon others.

Advertisements

Walking – Allison Grayhurst

 

A grain I throw

in the water, floating, ready to

sink. I see you – thin as anyone

must be living on such an edge – tense

and tired of holding your breath. So many years –

a raging prophet, flailing your limbs

to keep the barnacles off, to keep the ones you love

close and to keep your mission in perfect purity.

 

These days the summer is dried spit on the pavement.

It opens my eyes to the struggle everywhere – pigeons

waiting for water, children running up the dry incline,

facing a bridge, the great restructuring.

 

You, riding the gilded wing – love is like the Earth’s dirt,

necessary, elemental, and its smell, saturated with memories.

I love you: Sometimes it is easy.

Sometimes I am a woman in God’s funnel cloud,

bending back to look, but seeing only storm.

 

allison-grayhurst-profile-picture-2016Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 950 poems published in over 400 international journals. She has twelve published books of poetry, seven collections, nine chapbooks, and a chapbook pending publication. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay. Learn more at www.allisongrayhurst.com.

Losing interest in the sound of petrichor – Kate Garrett

 

and the scent of the thunder;

you’ll tell me it’s ozone broken by forked

lightning, but thunder has a smell

of its own:

heavy and green, pregnant with wildflowers.

 

The clouds pressed through our roof,

drowning a protestant sun; it was one

of those evenings I wished for a bee sting

one of those evenings when heat rises

and I am overly alive, when I’m breathing

in too much summer to stem the panic.

 

And the weight of your body

on mine did nothing

and the restless sweat escaping

my pores did not cool me down—

 

but when night fell, the owls sheltered

from the hot rain in graveyard trees

and I wandered beneath their calls

to calm the tremors.

 

kate-newKate Garrett is a writer, mother, editor, wife, history buff, and amateur folklorist. Her work is published here and there online and in print, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her most recent books are The Density of Salt (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2016) – which was longlisted for best pamphlet in the 2016 Saboteur Awards – and Deadly, Delicate (Picaroon Poetry, 2016). Her next pamphlet, You’ve never seen a doomsday like it, will be published in 2017 by Indigo Dreams. Kate lives in Sheffield with her husband, four children, and a cat named Mimi.