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Letter to a Lost Sister, by Ronda Broatch

The rains are coming, so we take grain to the horses
before the river consumes and islands unhitch
from their moorings.

Have you heard our father

is dead? The pastor
who murdered his children in the barn on the hill
still weeps when I trouble the stair dust, touch the
blood-rust of his axe.

Father asked

for you today, for your sweet
potato pie with bourbon, asked for his stack
of Playboys. This sackful of sand is all I’ve left

while the swelling river loosens
our bones, and no amount of fodder will rein in
this appetite.

Once,

dear sister,

I locked myself in the upstairs room at dusk,
let the hallowed chill enfold me, beholden
to the pastor’s

unholy moans. I know what you’re thinking.
Only two weeks cold, just days
in the grave.    In dreams

I see you swallowed by the new
moon, a bitter sacrament, mother’s gelding
sweat-drenched and white-eyed beneath you.

Father’s breath stopped

started again. Just remember to heal
each cut you make, leave a trail of grain
to let me know you’ve made it.

I’ve set a fire

in the barn, left a door to disappear through.

Father closed his eyes

when the year was new born.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 1.

Ronda Broatch, a graduate of the University of Washington, is the author of the chapbook Some Other Eden (Finishing Line, 2005).  Her work has appeared in Atlanta Review, American Poetry Journal, Calyx, Dogwood, Diner, Pebble Lake Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Tiferet.  Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Broatch is the recipient of the 2005 Kay Snow Poetry Award and the 2006 Washington Poets Association William Stafford Award, and was a Pacific Northwest Writers Association winner in 2003. In 2003 and 2004, Broatch attended residencies at Soapstone, A Writing Retreat for Women. She recently completed her latest manuscript, Rib of New Fruit.

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White Sheets, by Julia Esacove

Everywhere, snarled harps of sheets unfurl to lick toenail, lip, eyelash.
White dragons of thin cotton thwack-snapping in the hands of orderlies
long acclimated to the wards’ fleshy humidor of blackening lilies.

The sick sweat, unsoothed. The flatlined, stripped of tubes and unstrung
like violins in reverse are removed from last-act bivouacs and shipped off
to some lower level only children think to ask about. Vinyl visitor chairs

petroglyphed with rumps twitch with the parting blips and sighs,
butterflies of final breath and blinking eyes. Someone has died.
Should there not be bells, a burning ghat, a violet-wreathed pyre in the hall?

Some means, some smoke signal, perhaps, of paging the saints
for handholding and chant? What for those bedside vigiliants who need
a break: slipping out to the smoking patio or nearest bar, passing that

family of six minus one shivering in the hushed slice of the hospital’s
single telephone booth? How about an omniscient clock furnishing us
with the ultimate second so no one dies longing for our return

from the cafeteria, the chapel, the waiting rooms packed with forgotten
toddlers confetti-ing copies of Time and HighLights to haystacks. Or the
restrooms ghosted with surgeons, chalky as Charon, fighting the sleep ferry.

Patients slowly ford the orange-carpeted rivers of hallway, leashed
to nacreous lamps of intravenous fluids. Still alive. Dazed. How they hate
the paintings – clowns, marigolds, kittens – sutured to the walls with steel stays.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 1.

A native Californian, Julia Esacove obtained Bachelor of Arts degrees in Anthropology and Creative Writing from Pitzer College. She is the recipient of state-wide awards in college journalism and studied French literature at the Sorbonne Université. She has finalized her second chapbook of poetry, The Archangels of the Unremarkable and is currently working on a memoir with the assistance of her mentor, author Joe Loya.

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Vulture, by Stan Sanvel Rubin

regularity and symmetry…are amongst the
primordial needs of the human soul

        –Baudelaire, Journaux Intimes

Standing elsewhere, I look at myself
and record what’s missing
not with my eyes, so, much,
but with the mind that circles mountains
and returns, and returns like a wind
wanting to be sure it hasn’t
missed anything before seeking
the next desert, the calcified bones.

This is a space nothing fills.
This is a horizon without remonstrance.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 1.

Stan Sanvel Rubin’s third full-length collection titled, Hidden Sequel (2006), won the Barrow Street Book Prize in 2005. His works have been included in the anthology, Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets, published by the Oregon State University Press. Rubin also writes essay-reviews of poetry for Water-Stone Review .

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