Stellify


Star drunk we stagger home
And stop
Every few feet to stare
At the sky and map
Our futures in a splash
Of winking constellations.

- That right there
Is the house we will share.
No damp above the bed,
Like in the cosmopolitan flat
That we’ll lease.

- And to the right
Is a map of all the places we’ll go
And all the things that we’ll see

- We’ll go where paradise falls
And trek the wall
And we will follow the celestial roads
To the lands where
Our ancestors once lived
And loved

- You’ll watch me
Talk on the box and I will conquer
And seek and change
The course of history

- And I’ll applaud you
As you’re awarded and flourish
And fix and change
the course of history

- You will take the buckle from Orion
And gift it to me

As you give me your hand now
In this cobbled street
While the lights creeps in and chases
Our plan in the stars
Away

Nasim Asl



Ensign

I heard your voice
as it hitched a ride
on the coat-tails
of summer.

At its slow inflection
a world unfurled,
bobbed like
a painted sail.

I cast off now
in fear of the edge
and in expectation
of New England.

Fathomed or landed
on this squall's fair side,
a ship may fly far
before it falls.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley



Fleshed Dawn (a prayer)

The dawn fleshes out of his speared
Side. The curtain tears. How could I
Have lived without his promises when
Blood falls so easily, and the earth is
Sand in the palm?

Keep me close. God, keep me
Close. I arrive like the moon with nothing
To offer: with faith like tides, the heart
A peach pit, body trembling.

God, there is blood on my hands,
No one else calls any attention to it.
They whisper fake good against
The now dark, my shifting skin; all
My shafted promises. I am indebted
To all of them.

Thank you for forgiving. May I follow
You like a shadow. May my stilting
Words echo yours with boldness,
May I chase the dawn you died and
Rose for, and all after.

Hannah Downs



Rêveries (Daydream)

In the breath of a cascading waterfall...

I hear the voices of child spirits reciting sonnets
to fallen leaves that silently land upon browning
grass and meadows weaving a colorful blanket.

Trout cruise the pools along babbling brooks in
search of small meals, turtles peek from shallows.
I watch them feed, then a lonely leaf floats by
gathering speed and disappears downstream.

Chickadees and Nuthatches fluttering in pines
as Blue Jays squawk at me from high branches.
While walking the path, I feel a sting below the ear,
the seasons last mosquito has found me out here.

In the breath of a cascading waterfall... an escape.

Staring into your eyes of ocean blue, like the sky
on a summer's day, pools of azure splendor.
Your hair a chestnut brown, with golden highlights
shimmering in the bright warming sunshine.

In the breath of a cascading waterfall... with love.

Snow white sails billow in the warm trade winds,
as we sail off into rolling seas of a turquoise blue,
silken white clouds reflected terns and gulls from
tropical islands hover, dolphins leap o're the bow.

In the breath of a cascading waterfall... I awake.

A thermos of hot tea sits next to me under the great
oak, sparse of leaves now, but splendid and regal.
I slowly sip my cup as a flock of geese fly over,
I smile, close my eyes and find I'm in a daydream.

In the breath of a cascading waterfall... we depart.

Ken Allan Dronsfield



The Moon Wore a Rose

She wore a red dress
That fit like an embrace
It draped about her
And flowed with grace

Ebony hair cascaded
Over her shoulder bare
Her skin porcelain white
A flower most fair

The light she emitted
Was as soft as a kiss
Evening surrounded her
With shades of bliss

She walked on air
As if in a dream
Stars sparkled about her
She was all agleam

I held the red rose
Up to the moonlight
And it did dress her
In splendid delight

One perfect night
Of light and shadows
I will always remember
When the moon wore a rose

Ann Christine Tabaka



Eva reconsidered

Here is a house.

Here is a house in the suburbs,
dancing toddlers and blue

lamps. One slice of pumpkin pie
in foil in the fridge, John Candy on TV

grimacing. In this house

Jesus Christ watches us
in tattered clothes. My mother’s

picture watches us, too, dissatisfied
with the ham and mashed potatoes.

This is my house.

This is my place to remember
my mother’s house, my blue bed,

my Barbie dolls, all naked now.
My sister fiercely laughed here.

I don’t remember the house

in which I came to be a woman,
or if I am, or if it matters.

My husband calls to say come,
my children are busy: toys, batteries.

What is a house?

Half-asleep at 4 a.m. I go for water
and to see if it has snowed.

Half-asleep I do not tell my dreams.
My skin is insignificant.

They call this my house

and I call it exactly what it must be
called: where I return.

If this is my house,

I must return, and light the blue lamps
one by one, serenely.

Carl Boon



Inshallah: I Hope So

for Angelica


1.

When the swizzle of July air
strays into the trees draping our nest,
its haze of gray heat does not belittle our dreams.

She wandered with me behind a shack
and we found our glow again.
Our lumber whitened, its vapors dense
with mercurial inflections.

Mosquitoes and gnats aren’t a nuisance.
Each path runs above a fallow river
into a gulch of charred centuries.

She packed dusty Babylon into her beret
put it on and smelling of apples
and dandelion root she extinguished
what we were.


2.

We lay in the stir of twilight baptized
upon a purring moment that welcomed lore.
Visions opened visions to protect us.

She had no words for the weather.
There are skies in women that heal with rain.
Skies released, viewed, embarking.

John Michael Flynn

Lizards


The lizard rested on the sill in the
cooler night air. I went to close

the bedroom window's shutters.
We startled each other.

It scurried away, into the courtyard,
finding a new perch on a potted plant.

I stumbled into bed to dream
of canchánchara, of my two left feet,

of lizards basking on the cobblestones
in the glow of Trinidad's lamps,

the moon, the sun. They preened on the
wooden shutters painted every color.

Ray Ball



The Craft

When in search for something to make my own,
daydreaming self-worth with nothing but air,
oblivious I was to your home-grown
craft. From youth, your needles never stopped
clicking; that comforting homely rhythm.
Colourful patterns, loose threads strewn by your chair.
Each day always making, always giving
for tomorrow: baby clothes, thick winter
blankets we now hide under; or soft
nativity toys we bring out each year.

What appeared everyday was made to last.
So, when you rallied, your resolution encompassed all.
Despite hope gone, your last day come, still you asked:
Tomorrow, would we bring your needles and wool.

Peter Burrows



The Girl with Green Hair

Mattie got it into her head that the child was too afraid to come into the world. One night this thought was so strong she couldn’t sleep. She got out of bed, dressed quietly so as not to wake Trill and went outside. The old sycamore stood in a pool of moonlight, its branches brushed with silver. Mattie heaved her belly up with her arms and walked over the damp grass to the tree. She leaned against the trunk, feeling the texture of the bark on her skin, listening to the night sounds of birds and the scuttling of small creatures. She breathed in the earth smells of the surrounding fields. She made her child a promise.


Next day Hathor was born. Mattie and Trill buried the afterbirth under the sycamore tree. Trill’s parents, not unexpectedly, refused to attend the ceremony and took the opportunity to voice their displeasure at Mattie’s naming their only grandchild after an Egyptian goddess.

“Hathor? Lady of the sycamore?” Trill’s mother shook her head in disbelief. Nor was she soothed by Mattie’s explanation that the goddess, like the tree, embodied the qualities of sky, love, joy, beauty and music.

Everything, in fact, that she wished for her child.

“What nonsense!” Trill’s mother said. “She’ll never fit in anywhere with a name like that.”

“So... you didn’t feel that Trillion Pi was a wee bit out there too?” Mattie said.

“Of course not. We’re mathematicians. What could be more natural?”

Mattie looked at Trill. He shrugged. The shrug said, let it go. Don’t waste your breath.


Hathor’s hair was flaxen, unlike her dark-haired parents, but by her third birthday it had taken on a distinctly green tinge. To refute his mother’s accusation that Mattie was dyeing their child’s hair, Trill brought someone in to look at the pipes. The plumber confirmed that the source of the problem was the copper sulphate that was leaching from the old corroded copper water pipes. When Mattie was reassured there was no danger to health she decided the pipes could stay and so could Hathor’s beautiful green hair.

Trill, for once, told his parents to mind their own business.


When Hathor started primary school her name and her hair caused enough of a stir for her parents to decide that the Rudolph Steiner school in the city would be the better option and well worth the longer commute.

“Oh Martha,” said Trill’s mother, “She’ll never fit in anywhere with that hair.”

“She doesn’t have to,” said Mattie.


At her new school Hathor’s name was not considered unusual amongst all the Skylarks, Rains, Birdies, Celestials and Guineveres and nobody commented on her green hair. At home she picked wildflowers from the river banks, sang and danced in the fields and climbed the sycamore tree where she stayed for hours listening to the wind and drawing pictures of clouds and sky.

“What about friends?” the grandparents asked. “It isn’t normal for a child that age to play on her own all the time. She should be in a sports team. A debating club. She should have piano lessons. Gym. Ballet. Choir. She should join Girl Guides. She needs to stop wasting time. She needs to study maths. She needs to stop dreaming her life away. She needs to stop drawing rubbish.”


Trill suggested to Hathor that it might be best not to tell grandma that she had all the friends she needed in the larch, the poplar, the lacewood, the holly, and the sycamore, nor that she talked to them and that they told her stories and taught her songs. Hathor said why not, when it was true and Trill had no answer to that.


By the time Hathor was eighteen her hair was the colour of spring leaves. As many of her classmates at art school sported multi-hued hair, Hathor’s green locks passed unnoticed and everyone there dreamed and drew. At home she still sang and danced in the fields on her own, but she also painted trees and rivers and sky in all their different moods and seasons. Instead of the holiday jobs her grandmother told her to apply for to earn some money and to stop being idle, she spent her summer vacation painting. She told her parents it was a surprise and they couldn’t see it until she felt it truly expressed what she wanted it to.


When the painting was finished Hathor propped the canvas up on the mantelpiece and called her parents to come in and look.

They could see the painting was of the sycamore. But it looked not so much like a tree as a young girl with hair the colour of leaves, feet elongated into roots that fastened her to the earth, fingers tapering to twigs that stretched out towards the sky.

“Is it okay?” she asked.

Her parents nodded.

“More than okay,” said Trill.

“Much more than,” said Mattie.

Sandra Arnold

First published in The Airgonaut, April 2017



Persistence of Memory

Winds rocked the sycamore tree. Had the same God who formed this sycamore created that cancer her mother died of? It had been one year...a year to this date when Gloria became trapped within the sharp jaws of grief. Mother died her swollen eyes closed forever. Just a memory now memories touching her face her hair. So good, kind...what was the use of being wise and tender when all die?

Gloria lived alone in the desolate apartment. "Pearl Court" incised in capital letters over the building's front door. She had been there for so long listening to cries and laughter. Intimate murmurs sighs of dejection sounding through hallways. Her neighbors bound together by bricks but living separate lives. Their days chains of orderly minutes as night follows noon, seasons growing from each other.

Long branches crisscrossed skies. Newspapers scrapped along sidewalks. Cats howled in the cold night. Small pools of light shining from street lamps while raindrops fell like black ink. Cars barely paused at stop signs. A few passersby straggled along bending their separate ways against the cold. Heads dropped in collars, hands clutching coats close...all were intent on ending this day.

She couldn't stop thinking of him. No way no matter how hard she tried. Gloria kept retracing that afternoon. Was it so long ago? Wandering the bay together passing streets trimmed with trees. Surrendering to his strong arms listening to waves splash against rocks.

It was not so long ago. Sunset colored water...pink red violet. They watched gulls fly in circles as light caught their wing tips. Around around in circles over clouds...sea gulls flying...white sprays in an ocean of blue.

They kissed fervently. The train took them to his place to a room without time. She recalled every second. He watched her climb a staircase back to the station. Like a butterfly hidden within a soft flower, she waved goodbye. With his scent all over her clothes, she boarded the next train. Gone.

Comets circled in orbit through cool evenings as leaves fell. Red yellow and brown leaves coloring sidewalks. In aerial ballet stars pirouetted through heaven. Crowds of people were coming from work. They stopped to talk about cold nights slow subways high prices. This confusion of making one's way in a mad difficult world. Each one convinced she or he had found some corner of sanity.

Stopping in front of the apartment house, Gloria wondered if it would be possible for her to ever leave this place. Built during the 1930 depression, Pearl Court numbered fifty apartments. A whimsical boiler sometimes broke. Mud brown hallways eliminated any need for new coats of paint. If you pressed the up and down button simultaneously, the elevator came unless it was completely broken.

Winds caught her hair...cold air snapping her awake. Gloria thought of her favorite tree, the sycamore back home. Remembering last spring how it stood with leaves swaying in lemon green whirls through warm breezes. Months later neighbors gathered in the ample shade.

Then racing against the first sign of frost, foliage dropped to the ground...brown and crumpled. What had once been spring became winter. The moon waned behind the sycamore. That tall tree seemed to have always been there before Benson Avenue before Pearl Court.

Life turns its swift cycle. So too young girls laughter fell from their lips. Dating handsome boyfriends their high heels clicked over wooden floors. Time and drudgery would mute their clear faces. Finally their steps would become long and slow as they plodded to factories and offices. Did it matter if the lilt of their voices or fine glowing eyes became dull?

Ping pong water dripping from the sink. The familiar cacophony of heat rising through the stairway hissing along walls echoed through the apartment building. Windows rattled as she undressed for bed. Adjusting her pillow and blanket she relaxed in bed... gathered calmness around her, holding a few kind memories to press within her. Entering ebony night, she came upon a dreamscape of hills full of heather fragrant pink heather. She stood waiting on the top peak. Waving her arms tossing star seeds into heaven...planting empty fields of night with rows of light.

Joan McNerney



Saying goodbye

They arrived at the station. It had been a long season. The Harvest had ended and the leaves had dropped. Katie had arrived six months ago a slim girl with long hair tied back in a ponytail. She looked at her reflection in the window of the train as it pulled into the station. The cords of muscles in her neck stood out and her shoulders filled out her shirt. She would miss Vicky. They had become so close. She’d never met a girl like her before; someone like her; someone who lived to work a farm, who got up in the morning desperate to rush out and check the livestock.

“Well… I guess I’ll be seeing you then,” Vicky said. Katie stood in front of her and looked at her eyes. They sparkled. It felt to Katie like Vicky was looking deep into her soul.

The train pulled into the platform. It was time for Katie to go. She stepped forward and put her hands on Vicky’s shoulders. Vicky hugged her. She had hugged her female friends before but this felt different. Vicky’s body softened into her. Their hearts beat in time.

The doors beeped, they would be shutting soon. Oh, why did she have to leave. Why hadn’t she told her. She had had plenty of time to.

Katie stepped backwards and put her hand in the door; it sprang open again and she jumped on. The door shut and the train began the move. She had to tell her!

She ran across into the carriage and looked out the window. Vicky was walking alongside the train. Katie mouthed the words.

What was that? Vicky mouthed back. She couldn’t hear her, perhaps she should shout. But then everyone on the train would hear! Would they think she was crazy? Vicky ran along and pressed her hand against the window as the train sped up. Then she was out of sight.

Samuel Bigglesworth