“My brother is dying,” my mother tells me over the phone, her voice spilling down the line, a thin stream of water over the lip of a dam. My mother says the word dying like it’s a question. As if we have some input in the matter. I’ve been expecting this news for some time and yet still, I feel a click inside my head, the pinioning tooth of a clock gear grinding down into sudden, absolute stillness. My hand goes up to my forehead where the bone is surprisingly intact. Curved, warm, hard. It comes to me that silence is just a figment, a metaphor. What sounds like a barren expanse, if you listen harder, is actually a tidepool glinting with shape and movement. Like the man in the sound-proofed room who hears the storm of his breath, the wonder of his own heartbeat.
Careful, there’s little difference between the woody surface and the edible veins of the sugarcane. Carve the skin first to reveal the sweet blood that hums in your mouth until you’re chewing the gospel. Don’t swallow Mississippi; it does not belong to you fully, but touching the root is all it takes for the dirt to find your ears, for the music to seed itself into your brain as if you are the ground itself, acres of cotton and cane, rooting your tongue.
A mouth knows shapes for certain dying.
Says lunulas grey-bluing
like whites unseparated on
violaceous mottling, plum over
stone of cartilage and bone.
Featuring our 2016 spring contest winners: Annie Sheppard, Rochelle Hurt, Jacqueline Doyle; and our poetry finalists: Shonte Daniels, Alexandra Barylski, Kat Keller, Chelsea Dingman, Naima Woods, Jake Syersak, and Anne Barngrover
Jacqueline Doyle Manka curled up on her white linen couch with a glass of Pinot Noir and opened the new New Yorker to the fiction page. On the left there was an illustration of a snowy landscape, with dark trees silhouetted against a pale gray sky. And on the right, the title and the…
The word “benign” has several meanings. It can mean kindly or harmless. Or gentle – which is nice. I thought it also meant “sitting around doing nothing,” but this incorrect.
If you are busy, it can be irksome to observe others doing nothing. “If you’re not doing anything…” my husband says. I would argue that reading is not “doing nothing;” nor is smoking.
I am of robust health. You may find this offensive, given the above. Perhaps you do not feel robust yourself, or must work at it. If so, you may be glad to know that I will get my comeuppance.
Judge: Harrison Scott Key DEADLINE: April 9th! PRIZE: $500 and publication in Phoebe 45.2 (online issue) ENTRY FEE: $10 SUBMISSION SIZE: 1 piece per submission, up to 5,000 words. Harrison Scott Key is the author of the memoir The World’s Largest Man (HarperCollins), a true story about what it’s like to be related to insane people from Mississippi, including the surprise revelation,…
Ray Shea [paper]Here is one thing I do know: I didn’t write down enough of this when it was happening, and now there is nobody I can ask. This is why I am trying to piece together, from the available evidence, what was going on in my head and in my dad’s life on the…
Anna B. Sutton The nurse is small, chubby and folded over the desk like laundry folded then forgotten. She’s wearing worn pink scrubs and frameless glasses under a bowl-cut of thinning brown curls. She likes me. I hand her my HIV questionnaire, the one the receptionist asked me to print out and complete before my…
Sayantani Dasgupta Runner-Up, 2014 Creative Nonfiction Award I. When I was nine years old, I read Swiss Family Robinson, and it exploded my imagination. At that time, my family and I lived in a middle-class neighborhood in New Delhi, the capital city of India, far, far removed from the social and cultural milieu of early 19th…