My partner and I hold hands as we fall asleep.
Occasionally it’s a handshake,
but mostly our fingers are intertwined
If she’s sitting up in bed I’ll just hold her.
Sometimes it’s her wrist or her elbow,
sometimes just my arm across her chest.
We’re both careful to not let go until we fall asleep.
Until we wander our dreams alone,
meeting strange versions of one another.
I read that otters, both river and sea,
hold hands when they fall asleep
so they don’t drift apart.
I wonder if that’s why we do it.
So we drift off,
And when we die,
in some far-flung, theoretical future,
will we hold hands as the world closes?
Sure to follow each other,
not to drift through the ethers alone,
Nathaniel Mellor is a short story writer and poet-in-training. He lives in the Cilento of Southern Italy with his partner.
Who will say death?
–to Seamus Heaney
He dug deep into the layered
peat of personal and collective
inheritances. His pen was the
spade which revealed the roots
which held him fast to his place
and time. But they spread from
the fertile soil of his curious mind,
with its dormant tuber thoughts,
like sly potato shoots, branching
out to infiltrate other deaths. He
saw photographic relics of other
lives preserved in print’s cold
storage, overwintering them in
the barn of his memory. He wrote
of his connection with these
enigmatic bog-mired sacrificial
victims: Tollund Man, Grauballe
Man. To him they evoked the
faces of fieldworking forebears;
embodied in his grandfather,
grounded in past and present.
He retraced their each furrowed
wrinkle and ploughshared frown-
line as if they delineated patterns
of his own familiar fields. His crow’s
eye sought leazings at the margins
of a still stubbled jaw. He saw the
dreams of sunlight that twitched
behind each dead man’s sunken lids,
eye-balls still full like ripened kernels
of their lost summers, dozing in the
midday heat. He tasted the drugged
millet gruel lying heavy in each belly’s
shriveled sack. He felt the horsefly
bite of the rawhide tourniquet that
stung their throats as their hides
shivered, as strangled breath strained
from their lungs’ spent bellows. His
unflinching gaze saw the truth of
what these other deaths were to
him. They did not stay buried in
the obtuse earth, suffocated by
its density; bundled like hay-bales
into time’s sucking mire. He was
their breath of resurrection, that
rose through his words like mist-
vapours over the fenland sedges;
calling them to join him at their
long days’ end.
Kate Meyer-Currey was born in 1969 and moved to Devon in 1973. A varied career in frontline settings has fueled her interest in gritty urbanism, contrasted with a rural upbringing. Her ADHD also instils a sense of ‘other’ in her life and writing.
Your tambourine may be a distraction
to the other members of our
congregation but I like the raw electrical
energy of your body growing walls
of staticky feedback out of the locust
across the street. Your kettledrum is
a wakeup call, July heat rendered
as urgency. No matter how stifling,
your mother love swaddles me in sound,
a white noise machine left on
by accident, blended into the background
it has become. Before long your solo
closes, the crescendo of shrieks
we didn’t know was the end of the song,
but for now there are no deaf ears
but the ones you deafen.
Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of six collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Far Other (Woodley Press, 2020). He holds and MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and two children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.
One Winter Night in Maine
We trudged up the hill to Malcolm’s field in our mittens, woolen coats,
scarves snugged at our throats, the cold a biting 10 degrees —
only the silhouettes of his dairy herd watching, tails slowly swishing
as if waiting for coming revelations,
the sky like a hammered tin lantern with the stars wheeling round and round
the blades of your ice skates, the pond circular, too, in the middle
of the Jersey herd, their dark, liquid eyes reflecting glimmers from above
and from below your whirling feet carving diamonds in the ice, your smile
drawing us in as you swooped and swirled.
We were transported by silence and light from a million finger tips
reflecting a horizon like black ocean, the air so brilliantly frozen
it hugged our very core, every minute sound revolving in hushed whispers,
in anticipation of a sort of holiness, the beauty of quiet, soft breaths
and no one else within our own private galaxy,
glistening like ice within the heavens.
Susan Woods Morse grew up in California and then moved to Maine in the early 1980’s. After thirty years of shoveling snow, she moved to the Willamette Valley in 2016 and loves it! Susan is currently a member of the OPA and of Mid Valley Poetry Society. She frequently participates in readings at the Salem Poetry Project. In the Hush, published by Finishing Line Press (2019), is her first chapbook, but individual poems have appeared in various journals such as Cream City Review, The Mom Egg, Sixfold, Amethyst Review, Willawaw Journal and Aji Magazine.
Moon’s a farrier affixing
Shoes to the underside of
Leaves, steel-bright, twirling
On shafts, fastened by wind,
Some steal away running
Barefoot towards gardens
And those that remain turn
And glisten, horse-shake
In mid-air, as if they were
Unharnessed and about to
Traverse and nick the upper
Boughs on their way towards
Heaven. Shadows cover the
Lower branches like a leather
Apron and stone walls and
Fields appear littered with
Discarded instruments of
Brightened metal, some
Half hidden by waves of
Uncombed grass flowing
Past the tilted teeth of fence-
Posts towards lower ground
Where they flicker before
Their silent pour into an
Open wound of water
A life-long resident of Connecticut, John Muro is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and the University of Connecticut. His first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour, was published last fall by Antrim House and is available on Amazon. John’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in numerous literary journals, including Moria, Sheepshead, Euphony, River Heron, Clementine Unbound, Third Wednesday and The French Literary Review.