Always the Morning of Creation

By Sunni Brown Wilkinson

The young man who flies from New York to Salt Lake to fill in for a famous pianist (stomach flu) is also a famous pianist. We are second row at the symphony, and the pianist is skinny in skinny dress pants, and he plays a song like lanterns crashing. Something modern. But first he plays Beethoven. We watch him sway on the piano bench, eyes closed, anchored by his torso and pointed leather shoes, and I wonder about his mother. How many hours of practice did she hear? The Emperor Suite over a screaming pot of tea. Endless staircases of Chopin while she plucked his clean underwear from the basket, folded the waistband in half, tucked under the crotch. And for all the art about Paris or the sea, why not more about laundry? Why not more about children, about asking them to make their beds, teaching them to pee like grown-ups: elbows on their knees, legs swinging while they wait, wait, wait for it to come. Afterward the curved pink mark on their bottoms, a funny frown. Sweet Mary Cassatt, what do I owe you? What can I give you who are both hands and mirror? In The Bath the beautifully plain mother washes the feet of her daughter. The two look down together like suburban saints. Quiet, ceremonial. In the cathedral of night, mothers bow over a bed, kiss eyelids thin as the skin of a peach, faces already flushed with the fever of dreams. We bow to molecular division, embryo, the made becoming the maker. My son on an evening walk at four years old says the moon looks like a floating egg mama I love living on earth.

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Sunni Brown Wilkinson holds an MFA from Eastern Washington University. Her previous work has been published in Rock & Sling, Tar River Poetry, Weber: the Contemporary West and other journals and anthologies and has been nominated for two Pushcarts. She currently teaches composition and creative writing at Weber State University and lives in Ogden, Utah with her husband and three young sons who are experts on dinosaurs.

Lunar Month

By Joyce Hernandez

the moon when
everything is new to her
when light
as yet
skims only one keen edge

looks down on the hills
finds a cleft
she could curl into
and complete

she watches the river
in the wide quiet
where it spreads

and she feels
she could be another scale
on the side
of that great dozing fish

the moon spies
at the window
sees a table set

round white plates
deep white bowl
blood oranges in that bowl
she remembers
the rotund secret
hidden under her dark coat
and returns to the sky
to wait on the light
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Joyce Hernandez grew up in the Puget Sound area and graduated from Gonzaga University with a BA in Literature, minors in philosophy and Spanish Literature and a teaching credential. Her nurse’s training was at Olympic College in Bremerton. Joyce worked as an RN in the Yakima Valley, taught in Mexico (the Mixteca Alta, where her first daughter was born) in Toppenish (where her second daughter was born) and in Yakima. Her passion as a teacher has always been Early Childhood Education, although she has taught other grades, including high school. Joyce has been trying to become a poet since age twelve.
In 2005, Joyce retired from teaching to care for her husband (seriously ill with a heart condition) and devote more time to writing. She also studies art at YVCC. Her dream is to become an illustrator and one day illustrate her own book. This inspiration came to her while teaching Bilingual first grade and kindergarten, when a paucity of materials made it necessary to create books for her students. The most difficult and rewarding work she has done is parenting. As a single mom and grandmother, Joyce finds motherhood with all its complexities and heartbreaks, to be her greatest blessing.

Mt. Ellinor

By Megan Snyder-Camp

The children are learning swears.
They want to know

what hell is for. Imagine your anger
was a place where people actually lived.

Everything at the grocery expired.
The kids don’t know what expired means.

Imagine that when this white goat
comes barreling down the mountain

you don’t see it. This mountain
named after a woman like so many others.

Instead you are following him
some ways back gathering the wool he has left

in rocks and branches because one day
you might learn how to knit. That’s what

hell is for, I tell them, but they are beyond listening,
pointing at some blur outside.
_____________________________________________________________
Megan Snyder-Camp is the author of The Forest of Sure Things (Tupelo Press, 2010) and Wintering (Tupelo Press, published in summer 2016). She lives in Seattle with her family.

Pale Child

By Jo Shafer

under wool blankets
when windows rattled,
on screened porches
keeping mosquitoes at bay,
chasing fireflies with cousins
in grass and flowers,
gradual color changes
as late afternoon sky darkens,
curling next to Mother
on the sofa by the fireplace,
rain spattering windows, yet

left with emotional watermarks
from mishmash memories
of grownups unheeding,
towering over my head,
of arguments flung
back and forth
between kitchen and dining room,
of bedtimes without supper or story,
doors slammed over and over
until my brain rattled.

Estranged

By Jo Shafer

She sees him in every child alone
in a shop or on a playground
when school is out, swings abandoned,
curled leaves skittering across lawns,
in every teenager racing past,
green and black Lycra
hugging his lean form,
sometimes trudging across
a bridge into the mist,
a cap pulled over his eyes, hair scraggly,
shoulders hunched under a grimy backpack
crammed with all his belongings,
as her bus passes him in the other direction.

Is that her son?
________________________________________________________
Jo Shafer writes and publishes poetry and essays in various anthologies including Mainsprings, Weathered Pages, Allied Arts contest anthologies and the current Yakima Coffeehouse Poetsanthology. A retired feature writer for the Yakima Herald-Republic and copy editor for The Central Washington Catholic, she has lived in Yakima since the mid-1970s. Her most recent works include a literary nonfiction book on Paul the Apostle and a poetry manuscript set in an old Florida town during the Great Depression.

Autism, echolalia

By Divya Ramesh

It is a ritual that he has,
ramming his fist
into his left cheek,
not out of choice,
it hurts him,

it is a ritual that I have,
ramming his fist
into my left palm,
intercepting him,
instead,

a cycle that we have,
a cycle that we cannot stop
—only slow down—

he wants stimulation,
and so his echolalia when
Pixar presents Inside Out,
“Pixar presents Inside Out,”
“Pixar presents Inside Out,”
he says,

just as the mother who sits
catawampus from him stares.

Were her daughter to hear
“catawampus”, she would
echo it, for pleasure,
for the way the consonants
collide on her tongue.

But that is normal,
not him. He is a wampus
for his echolalia, for his
autism, to some.

See him inside out.
See that he feels happy
and anxious and frustrated
just like your daughter
just like your son.

Don’t look at him.
See him.
He sees you.

Another life

By Divya Ramesh

Her ashes dissolve into the Ganges,
into the current and tributaries,
Sunlight glints on the water and speckles
it with alabaster, like blood plasma.

If rivers are the blood-veins of nature,
then what they carry is a pulse, a life.
A mother empties urns into the water.
Submerged too young, infant triplets, Stillborn.

Born still but now stirring, lent a heartbeat
and a voice in the water’s babble with
which to be riparian travelers
redeeming their second chance at living.

The water whelms that mother’s feet
and so carries her years of walked wisdom
into the current lives of her children.
and so carries her children’s lives to her.
______________________________________________
Divya Ramesh often uses her writing to don perspectives that she cannot wear through lived experience. She is currently a 22-year-old writer and undergraduate college student at the University of Pennsylvania who is not a mother in the prenatal vitamins, labor contractions, and decorate-the-nursery-a-neutral-yellow kind of way. However she knows those kinds of mothers, has that kind of mother, and loves those kinds of mothers. At the moment, Divya is a mother in the kindergarten teacher, camp counselor kind of way: reading bedtime stories, tying shoelaces, and breaking up fights on the playground. There are many kinds of mothers.

Along with All We Can Hold, Divya thanks Appalachian Heritage, The Evansville Review, and The Penn Review for publishing her work. Her goal in identifying as a writer is to give those who don’t identify as writers a voice to tell their stories. Divya currently resides in Philadelphia and New Jersey, splitting her time between the Schuylkill and Millstone rivers. When she’s not writing poetry, you can find her ruining a vanilla pudding recipe that she found off the internet. Feel free to reach her atdivyaramesh20@gmail.com.

Groundling

By Linda Flaherty Haltmaier

A killdeer, she calls out,
behind a door that stays closed 

more often these days,



It’s the bird with the striped neck

she told me about as she searched
for her phone and raced upstairs,



the one that built its nest in the field grass,

mother bird fretful and aflutter
as 
twelve-year-olds stomped and laughed


by nearby tomato plants—
father bird pacing, 

eyes darting from sneaker to ball cap 


as tween interlopers threatened.

When did the scales tip,
her knowing things that I don’t?


Behind doors that separate¬—
hushed one-way conversations
I can’t make out,

Laughter that withers
at the sound of my shoes.
My outstretched wing hovers 


over her still—
as my groundling stumbles
into the future,

phone in hand,

secrets to her chest,

and a shadow drafting close behind.

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Linda Flaherty Haltmaier is an award-winning poet and screenwriter. She is the winner of the Homebound Publications Poetry Prize for her full-length collection, Rolling up the Sky. Her debut chapbook, Catch and Release, was published by Finishing Line Press (2015). Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies including Canopic Jar, Mad Swirl, Poeming Pigeon, and more. She was named a finalist for the Princemere Poetry Prize and completed a residency at the Noepe Center for the Literary Arts on Martha’s Vineyard. A Harvard graduate, Linda lives with her husband and daughter on Boston’s North Shore – and strolls the beach in search of treasure and inspiration

Crust Season

By Farah Marklevits

One of these days, you will
learn to eat the yeasty ends,

flakes of buttery shell, doughy
tops baked on and into what

someone warmed to bubbling.
Eat phyllo farthest from fillings,

even chips of bedrock, slivers
of legless tabletops of ice piled

at intersection of creek bank
and concrete arch, scraps of

stippled cold at sidewalk
margins. If you could learn

how to plump on a crumb.
Eat a shard and be warm.

Sing a crust song and feed
yourself and some huddle.

If when you are all dull edges,
hollowed to weightless close

to cracking, if when you think
you can’t hack hard enough,

you could grow ruddy on
delicate snow swept into

brick corners and hybrid snow
that will not cleave from curbs.

If you could turn to all that is
cold-stuck, wind-carved, and say

Mother. If I could teach you anything.

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Farah Marklevits lives with her family in Iowa and commutes across a mighty river to teach in Illinois. Her work has appeared in Literary Mama, The Carolina Quarterly, LocusPoint, and Salt Hill.