Poems & Essays

22 Apr

At the End of Our Hike

Toddlers to Teens No Response

I carry a collection of sticks for my son:
wand, backup wand,
walking stick, horse,
blaster, sword.

In my head, Neil deGrasse Tyson
narrates last week’s planetarium show:
Wherever you are, it feels
like you’re at the center
with everything else speeding away.

My son dashes ahead
to where the trail bends
inevitably away from me,

and vanishes with a swish of ferns.

I’m left in the golden glimmer
of dust kicked up in his haste.

Once, everything existed as one,
clutched in the tight fist of the universe,
my son, his sticks, these breaths,
this ache.

Each tiny particle
gleams, suspended
in a splintered ray of sun.

Then, bang!
For billions of years, we drift
further and further apart.

This is our life:
full speed,

then float.

I shift the sticks
to fill the space left when he slipped
his small hand from mine

and try to catch up.

 

 

Lindsay Rutherford lives and writes in Edmonds, WA. She studies fiction at the Writers Studio and works as a physical therapist at a local hospital. Her fiction and poetry can be found in Lunch Ticket, Medical Literary Messenger, Poplorish, and WA129+.

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22 Apr

Galactic

Toddlers to Teens No Response

In the months I lived with her
My grandmother used to crack the door
of my room and stare at me while I slept.
It felt uncomfortable,
an invasion of my young adult privacy.
Her housecoat silhouette in the doorway
standing guard, checking her ward
before she shuffled slowly back
to her room down the hall.

A decade later I find myself
cracking doors in my slippers,
staring at my own child as he sleeps.

My dreaming boy,
all ruddy cheeks, porcelain skin
bath-sweetened and still.
Limbs akimbo in a tangle
of cheery cotton, soft muslin.
His lamp lit beauty
knocks me breathless.

I want to climb inside his dreams
fill up any empty slivers of his life
with the golden magic he gave mine.

In those seconds standing by his bedside
I exist in a universe outside of time
I am ocean, love silently crashing
again and again, infinite.

I imagine my grandmother in these moments
Watching the steady
drum-beat breath of your child’s child
must feel like bearing witness to the miraculous
Now I think she was not
checking up on me so much as
she was checking in–
struck still by the stunning view
of the galaxy she created.

 

 

Shannon Curtin is a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two collections of poetry, Motherland (Anchor and Plume Press), and File Cabinet Heart (ELJ Publications). Her writing has been featured in a variety of literary magazines including Mothers Always Write, The Muddy River Review, The Mom Egg Review, and The Elephant Journal. She holds an MBA, competitive shooting records, and her liquor. You can find her at www.ablogofherown.wordpress.com.

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22 Apr

promised land

Toddlers to Teens No Response

There is a garden of children around me,
little tulip mouths and soft dirt-covered stems
they flutter at my feet, call me by my newest name.
They find their father in his workshop.
They learn the smell the metal and listen to the sound
of one kind of creation. They follow me to the garden
to see another. Currants and lilac; vines of tomato,
cucumber, squash.

They pick me a smattering of the ripest ones,
their bare feet stamping down the grass,
their tiny fingernails caked in warm dirt.

The faces at my table hand me
back their plates, show me
their always open hands,
their spongey brains and hearts
that are never full enough,
all clamoring: please, more.
I am overflowing, so ready to give
I would happily open a vein.

Our house has room to stretch, pockets of space to hold
all the treasure they collect.
The floors are sticky.
The coffee table is scuffed, nicked,
and cluttered with books.

The windows are all open.
There is so much light.

 

 

Shannon Curtin is a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two collections of poetry, Motherland (Anchor and Plume Press), and File Cabinet Heart (ELJ Publications). Her writing has been featured in a variety of literary magazines including Mothers Always Write, The Muddy River Review, The Mom Egg Review, and The Elephant Journal. She holds an MBA, competitive shooting records, and her liquor. You can find her at www.ablogofherown.wordpress.com.

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22 Apr

Ferd’s Bog

Toddlers to Teens No Response

In the moment you turn to climb the school bus stairs
I remember our first hike in the Adirondacks:
how fast you sprung up the rocky path
looking for warblers
and red-winged blackbirds.
You’re slower now.
Your backpack so heavy
gravity almost pulls you back to me.

Or am I wishing it in these words?

You lift yourself up and forward
with the same determination you had on the trail
and step into your own life.

Which, come to think of it now,
always was yours
from me, never mine.   

Really, it’s no wonder you don’t look for me
from the bus. You are still but moving
and even more focused
than you were in the bog.

When you spotted a brown sparrow
and I saw nothing, not a leaf flickering,
I wondered if there was any bird at all
but went along with it
for the sake of the thrill.

Oh, I see the sparrows in front of me now:
The many small strangers of you emerge from this branch
of heartbreak and joy. You fly like a flock—

all at once
and turn to catch the wind.

 

 

 

Christina Matthews is a former English Composition and Creative Writing Instructor. She currently resides in Syracuse, New York, where she is buried in snow for five months out of the year. She received an MFA with a concentration in poetry from Georgia College. Her work has appeared in The Adirondack Review and The Hudson Literary Journal, along with various other journals.

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