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Old Business,
by Vanessa Haley

Slow tumult, then tumbling with the river’s
currents, eels darkening remainders of daylight,
the snapping turtle sequestering its own
swamp of sorrows, damselflies–hyacinth
needles with nothing to sew–zigzagging
as the tide rose and fell, their prism-vision
registering: tiger lilies folding, the velvet
black and yellow of bumble bees holding
honeysuckle, minnows’ shimmering gold,
relinquishing themselves to depths
they hardly know. At the department staff
meeting, someone reads aloud the old
business
, and I am back on the damp fold
of sand, the white-whiskered catfish
staring me down with one filmy eye.
Water slaps softly the shore while
the recovery team tosses in long arks
the four-pronged hooks that snag at last the lost.
The rope’s tautness and the weight of the load
they are pulling toward them make them grimace—
grown men trained to drag river-bottoms and lakes,
working methodically, concentrically,
who have seen human remains as swollen
and pale as grubs or as hollow and jagged
as the cicada’s shell, its new body already winged.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 2.

Vanessa HaleyVanessa Haley Previously an associate professor of English at the University of Mary Washington, Vanessa Haley is a psychotherapist whose poems have appeared in Poetry, The Alaska Quarterly Review, Dogwood, The Grove Review, Southern Poetry Review, and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of The Logic of Wings (Cherry Grove Press). View her literary board games at PlayGamestoLearn.com.

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Outsider,
by Meg Harris

“…if thou subdue the thunders to a tone of murmurous gentleness, and taste the sweet, love-rippling features of the river at thy feet.”
Kalidasa

Orcaella Brevirostris

It’s said that when the little queen walked barefoot on the delta she made a trail of blossoms from the hedgerow to the sea. Others insist the deep blue shade of Iravati’s blood colored the river, touched the sky and the river-dolphin’s hide. Born Kasyapa’s grandchild and like that creature: her eyes open, mouth of pearly teeth and thin skin.

My family visits a water show to witness a dolphin called Sapphire, throw her sleek body toward the sun and through a flaming hoop. A spout opens and saltwater spills from my eyes not melancholy or some feigned emotion, instead a cellular

recollection awakes in me. I was privy to a sacred telling by this silent mammal. A history we shared yet could not speak. As the way to fly in dreams is a matter of remembering. Tourists visiting the Mangrove forest often doubt the yarns of local

fisherman who net along the Irrawaddy River. One, Saikat, looks forward to fishing with a pod each day; he is familiar with individual animals by their temperament and the scars they bear. For a dolphin is tattooed by the map of its life story.

On a day like today Saikat watches his dolphin-partners herd a school of fish into his waiting nets. They bound into the air, sending out great plumes of water which sparkle in the early sun. And the creature’s sleek blue skin is glazed with light

and water. At dusk the fishers pay the dolphin; dumping a share of the day’s catch into the river. They say the girl queen was covetous the night she left the king with his new bride. Some believe Iravati wandered the sacred river where it

spills into the Andaman Sea. There accounts of Kadru’s daughter end. But visit the Sundarans and you may witness swans lingering at the water’s edge or hear the song of flightless birds. We took the children again to view the dolphins. I read in the

park until the show was done, certain my tears would blur my vision to watch the tale my storied cousins told. In the quiet outside I was taken up in reverie of a minor queen whose divinity is not remembered or believed. And who rode a swan out to

the deepest part of the cove where she shed her swathe to swim alone. Or was she met by wise friends who knew her unfortunate tale and revealed the gift of her escape? My daughter says the dolphin’s brain is the same size as a human’s. But the

cerebral cortex has much deeper folds. I think of scrolls on which an ancient text lies and love stories that end differently than told. Days ago, thousands of endangered Irrawaddy dolphins were seen leaping in great clusters near the mouth of

the river named for a lost princess. Local scientist called the find “a miracle,” since it was thought that just hundreds of the blue creatures remained in the wild. Like the Irrawaddy dolphin, Sapphire and I are hidden, sheltered within a sea change

manifest by an outsider Queen, a secret Goddess worshipped by only a few. Watch us leap the seas and rivers, spouting water and bearing witness to our scars bright as tattoos.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 2.

Meg Harris is a writer and a teacher. A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts Meg teaches literature, writing, poetry, critical thinking, & ESL. Her short stories, essays, and poems have appeared in both print and online journals including, Whiskey Island, The Cafe Review, Upstreet, Willows Wept Review and others.

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The Goddess,
by Grete Tartler, translated by Adam J. Sorkin

Wired up to the lie detector, I confess:

I lied that goddesses

need magic accessories

that makeup deepens the glance

and the clothes reveal grandeur

L’élégance sans nom de l’humaine armature

leaving behind old tomes and dusty counsel

for the happiness near at hand, near at heart:

swimming in a drop of water :

The unwise gain what the wise may lose

 

But I didn’t speak to those

I couldn’t save,

I didn’t answer the forests’

thousands of letters, dead leaves,

I didn’t stop air in willow flute

 

I threw open the door to the florist’s storeroom

I was the target

of those I taught to use ply the bow

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 2.

Grete Tartler has published nine collections of poetry beginning with her first book in 1970. She has translated from German, Arabic, English, and Danish, and she has written on Arab poetry and culture as well as a book, European Identity, and a study of four Arabic philosophers.

Adam J. Sorkin has translated more than forty-five books of contemporary Romanian literature, and his work has won the Poetry Society (U.K.) Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry, among other awards. Recent books include The Book of Winter and Other Poems by Ion Mureșan; A Path to the Sea by Liliana Ursu, translated with Ursu and Tess Gallagher (Pleasure Boat Studios); Medea and Her War Machines by Ioan Flora, translated with Alina Alina Cârâ (University of New Orleans Press); and The Vanishing Point That Whistles: An Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry.

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