Ironing

By Iain Macdonald

Hour after hour, year upon year,
she stood in this corner, laboring to
transform a pile of laundry–trousers
blouses, even underwear–into a
sharp-edged stack with which to armor
her family against an uncertain world.

This I remember, back in her domain,
as I struggle to erase each packing
crease from a newly purchased shirt.
She’s gone these two years past, but I
still know what’s expected of her son
when he attends his father’s funeral.

________________________________________________________________

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Iain Macdonald currently lives in Arcata, California.  He has earned his bread and butter in various ways, from flower picker to factory hand, merchant marine officer to high school teacher.  His first two chapbooks Plotting the Course and Transit Report were published by March Street Press, while a third, The Wrecker’s Yard, was released in 2015 by Kattywompus Press.

Possibly My Two-Year-Old Knows More About Physics Than I Do

By Shana Youngdahl

The first of the poppies burst open the day
we arrived at my in-laws New Mexico home.

Each morning we count petals folding back pink,
coral, scarlet, all taller than you. I have no memory

of smallness, or the world blooming at eye-level.
The bees near my nose or hands dwarfed by flower.

In the house before the photographs of your father
and I you say, I have to be born before

I can be in that picture. You believe you could join us
in that pasture with the right word, or descend

into the photograph of your aunt as a girl
and play with her, hold her doll, slip

down the slide, as if you understand the theory that time
might bend, that it is the greatest illusion of our world.

And I want to say, no, we can never go back, could never be wedged
in another time, but standing there my hand in your curls, I know

you’re right. Now that you’re here, it is impossible that you never were.

___________________________________________________________

Shana Youngdahl is the author of the collection History, Advice and Other Half-Truths (Stephen F. Austin State University Press 2012) and three chapbooks, most recently Winter/Windows from Miel Books. She teaches writing at The University of Maine, Farmington and co-directs The Longfellow Young Writers’ Workshop. She has two daughters.

Identifying the Problem

By Marina Carreira

Where are my marbles?

Last time I looked, they were
under the sofa, by
a linty Binky and half drunk
bottle of sour milk. Or
under the bathroom sink,
between bleach and ammonia.
They could be frozen solid
in my sub-zero freezer,
ice glistening the tops
of their heads with fridge-winter.
I probably dropped them
and they rolled under
my bed, where cobwebs form
chandeliers above the dust
dancefloor of my bedroom.
Perhaps, they are on
the kitchen windowsill, next to
the disinfectant spray and statue
of Saint Philomena, protector
of children, and some say, the mad.
I’ve lost my marbles, it seems;
they are not in my underwear
drawer or backseat, not between
the pages of Ai, not
in the empty coffee can or pill bottle.
My cat’s eyes and agates,
gooseberries and puries,
my dragonflies and aggies,
these former furnishers of
dreams. Did I ever have them
to begin with? Has anyone

seen my marbles?

_____________________________________________
Marina Carreira is a Luso-American writer from the Ironbound area of Newark, NJ. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University. Her work is featured in The Acentos Review, The Writing Disorder, Naugatuck River Review, Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora: An Anthology, Bluestockings Magazine, THE FEM, Rock&Sling, and Paterson Literary Review.

He Calls His Mother in Miami

By Freya Manfred

He calls his mother to listen to her labored breathing –
all that’s left of her, in her last bed.

The nurse holds the phone to her mouth
while he thinks of his life with her and without her.

He would prefer to be beside her now, but he has to work.
And where would she rather be?

She might wish to be in her son’s arms, gathered
and held closely, as she once held him.

Or she might choose to be cradled by the sea outside her window,
riding the sacred waves to shore.

Her harsh, short breath is her last gift to her son,
and she puts her whole self into it.

This is her last concern, before she leaves him
to his own dying.

________________________________________________________________
Freya Manfred’s sixth collection of poetry, Swimming With A Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle, won the 2009 Midwest Bookseller’s Choice Award for Poetry. Her eighth collection is Speak, Mother, Red Dragonfly Press, 2015. A longtime Midwesterner who has lived on both coasts, her award-winning poetry has appeared in over 100 reviews and magazines and over 50 anthologies. Her first memoir, Frederick Manfred: A Daughter Remembers, was nominated for a Minnesota Book Award and an Iowa Historical Society Award. Her new memoir is RAISING TWINS: A TRUE LIFE ADVENTURE from Nodin Press. Novelist Philip Roth says, “Freya Manfred always startles me by how close she gets to everything she sees.” Poet Robert Bly says, “What I like in (her) poems is that they are not floating around in the air or the intellect. The body takes them in. They are brave. The reader and the writer meet each other in the body.” See more of her work at www.freyamanfredwriter.com. “He Calls His Mother in Miami” was previously published in Speak, Mother.

Creation

by Jenny Molberg

My sister and I used to peel
the crusts off Wonder Bread,
roll the soft middles in our palms.
The sheets on our beds
were freckled with tiny flowers.
At night, they came alive:
bees, or daddy longlegs,
or little girls who looked like us.
As they flew around the room,
we caught a few. Held them
in our hands, named them:
“Debbie,” “Bebe,” “Lady Catherine.”
Later, one grew inside me.
It came too early—they showed me.
Like a tiny flower.
I wanted to name her.
To feel the weight of her,
to catch her hand as it grabbed
at a pink flower, to warn her
of all the world’s little dangers.
To watch her bite into a pillow
of bread with a ferocity
that I could say, with certainty,
was just like her mother’s.

Ode to Absence

by Jenny Molberg

The woman in the locker room mutters, kids…
and I almost say they’re not mine

for what seems like the thousandth time.
I am afraid she will think I have nothing.

Today, in Oklahoma, they unearth blackboards
untouched since 1917. The children learned to multiply

on a spoked wheel. Stars of David border
the chalked lessons, a rainbow of them.

I can almost see the small hands penciling
two triangles, each cradling its upside-down twin.

In some long-gone teacher’s apple-pie script,
a few sentences about the pilgrims, some drawings.

The shadows of bonnets crosshatched in chalk.
The king would not let them go to their own churches.

I put my ear to the past, and the pilgrim woman
whispers: You are lonesome. You are free.

Her Hand, the Compass

by Jenny Molberg

My neighbor walks with wide steps around the yellow crocuses,
moves her hand over the life that kicks in her.
She doesn’t know that this child will never be born.
She sees that someone cut back the herbs in the garden,
and can’t understand it. Oregano, basil, mint.
They are all green and want to be tasted.
When the chives are cut, they come back.
With her finger, she traces a map
and the child hears its soft drum:
here are the crocuses and peonies.
Here is where your father, whom you do not know
writes in notebooks. Here is where he will scold you,
then forgive you. Here, the lights
will only stun you a minute. You will shoot up like a chive
and tangle with the world, where everything
wants to be chosen for something bigger.
____________________________________
Jenny Molberg’s debut collection, Marvels of the Invisible, won the 2014 Berkshire Prize and is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Missouri Review, North American Review, Copper Nickel, The New Guard, Mississippi Review, Third Coast The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets and other publications. Molberg holds an MFA from American University and a PhD from the University of North Texas. She currently teaches at the University of Central Missouri and is poetry editor for Pleiades. Find her online at jennymolberg.com.

The Vacancy

by Ingrid Jendrzejewski

When I tell you I applied to be the moon, you just laugh. The moon? you ask.  You have to be a little bit crazy to be the moon! I know, I say. I am, aren’t I? You raise your eyebrows and leave for work, a smile on your lips.

Personally, I think I am uniquely qualified for such a position. I spend my most conscientious hours awake at night, silently watching over our restless little one, my face peering down, full and sleepless, quiet and trenched. My dark arms wrap around her smallness: I am so close and part of her that she forgets I’m something different from the night itself. We hold ourselves in that wasteland between twilight and daybreak when nobody but the infants and troubled and death-sick and mothers are straining.

And then, after and before such vigils, I go about the day as if I am a different entity: I pack lunches. I sweep the porch. I peel oranges. I post birthday cards. In the dawn and dusk, I kiss you goodbye and hello. I am, otherwise, unseen; in the light of the day, my giant moon face shrivels until it is only the size of an average human head.

____________________________________

Ingrid Jendrzejewski studied creative writing and English literature at the University of Evansville before going on to study physics at the University of Cambridge.  Since then, she has been involved in research, computer game development and theater; she reconnected with writing after taking some time out of work to start a family.  She has participated in the PoMoSco and Read, Write, Poem poetry projects and her poetry can be found in the 6th Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum English Haiku CollectioncattailsThe Mainichi, and an upcoming anthology by Two of Cups Press. Recently, she won Gigantic Sequins’ flash non-fiction contest and the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Prize for Flash Fiction. Links to her work can be found atwww.ingridj.com and she very occasionally tweets from @LunchOnTuesday. Ingrid has soft spots for Go, cryptic crosswords and the python programming language.

27 Weeks

by Kerri French

When they said the daughter inside me
may pass, I locked the bathroom door
and did not leave the bathtub for a week.
The water rose to my neck
and I allowed myself to swim
in the thoughts of a woman
even loneliness could not climb.
My daughter’s body turned
beneath my skin as I counted
cracks in the ceiling, small slivers
pointing to an open window.
I was living in a country where no one
knew me, voices like ripples
I would never reach—the same way
my daughter remained with me
as I slept, her name not yet spoken.
__________________________________________
Kerri French’s poetry has appeared in Barrow Street, Mid-American Review, storySouth, DIAGRAM, Sou’wester, Waccamaw, Lumina, PANK, Best New Poets, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, among others. Instruments of Summer, her chapbook of poems about Amy Winehouse, is available from Dancing Girl Press. She currently lives and writes outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

If I Had But Dreamed You

by Joan I. Siegel

I would go back to sleep
to dream you more—
a phantom daughter treading water

but who can choose the dream
or the child who rips her flesh
and names her mother?

It doesn’t matter that halfway around
the earth someone reached by chance
for the file with your name

your face— because
when I lift you
I hurt with all my love.

_______________________________

Joan I. Siegel is the author of Hyacinth for the Soul (Deerbrook Editions, 2009) and A Passing (Deerbrook Editions, 2015) as well as Light at Point Reyes (Shabda Press 2012) and The Fourth Fourth River (Shabda Press 2015). Siegel is recipient of the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award as well as the New Letters Poetry Award. Her work is widely published in poetry journals including The Atlantic Monthly, Carolina Quarterly, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, and others.