Metamorphosis

by Lois Ruskai Melina

To find a star garnet:

First, drive to the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. Alternatively, go to India.

You will need to bring a shovel, a bucket, heavy plastic bags, and an eighteen-inch square made of two-by-fours with a quarter-inch screen stretched over one open side.

Take a child, too. A ten-year-old is best. A seven-year-old may get bored and start throwing rocks. (More …)

The Road to Nowhere

by W. Scott Olsen

1.

Today, I am not in a hurry.

There is no race.  No deadline.  No urgent press that compels me forward.  No one is waiting.  No one depends upon news I might bring.

There is just this road in front of me.  Two lanes, one leading north and one leading south.  They head down a prairie hill and then over a rise.  Fields on both sides.  There are clouds on the horizon, but here, at the intersection of I-94 and US Highway 83 in eastern North Dakota, at the Cenex gas station where I’ve stopped to buy gas and coffee, the morning is bright and warm. (More …)

Patas

by Mary Quade

Loja, Ecuador

The chickens hang in a row, a hook through each left leg, some legs with scaly yellow feet still attached, some ending at the drumstick. Some of the attached feet are only semi-attached, cut through the joint so that they dangle, fatty soles waving. Some chickens, split open along the belly, expose the ovaries’ bright sacs of yolks, the nascent eggs inside the birds waiting for whites and shells. Others remain mostly whole, bumpy skin buttery; fatty tails over cave-like holes leading to hollow bellies. Beneath these curtains of chickens, white tile counters covered in steel trays with more chickens and parts of chickens. Behind the chickens, women in aprons, selling chickens, their booths festooned with fuzzy green garland lingering from Christmas. One woman points to the orange cluster of yolks, tells me, “Pollo bonito. Con huevos.” I understand this. I can say “pollo.” But I can’t say much else. The words, las palabras, nestled and slippery in my brain.(More …)

Pull and Drag

by Artress Bethany White

 “I have to confess that my own aquatic skills came about through a mix of parental responsibility and federal desegregation.”

I rarely see any African Americans swimming in my gym pool in Knoxville, Tennessee. I always imagine that other members of the gym are amazed to see me doing laps. Most of them probably believe that black people can’t swim and I’m just a cultural anomaly. I say this because just recently I caught another article in the news about the high number of African Americans who acknowledge not being able to swim—a number much higher than other racial groups on national average. My gut twisted when I read it in that way that most people experience when they realize they have risen above a statistic but know that this does not make the statistic incorrect. I have to confess that my own aquatic skills came about through a mix of parental responsibility and federal desegregation.(More …)

Wishbone

by Karen Babine

The secret to chicken soup is to start with a chicken—a whole one, three to four pounds. Chicken soup is a pot of deliberate attention, a thing that contains everything that you and the chicken have to give, so if you have a heavy Dutch oven, maybe a vintage Le Creuset you found at the thrift store that is the color of faded sunshine and that you have named Estelle for no good reason other than the pot needed a name, use it.(More …)

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Interrupted

by Karen Houppert

Sometimes the rending apart of parent and child is abrupt, sometimes gradual.

Always, it is painful.

In my family, it happens with dogged, painful insistence at age thirteen. Thirteen is the beginning of the end. It was the last year I spent with my father. It is the age my son is now.

What is it about thirteen, I wonder. I study him. (More …)

Soul Singing

by Robert Wrigley

In the autumn of 1973, I had a stack of poetry books checked out from the library at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where I would complete a BA in English the following summer. The stack of books (all of them those familiar slender volumes) was about seven times the height of the meager pile of poetry books I actually owned. This pained me. I was enamored, enraptured, and swept away by poetry. (More …)

Collide with Me

by Jen Hirt

Since moving to a city, I have had a thing for the full moon. How it waits behind buildings like a spy. I learn the espionage of streetlights, headlights, the tease of stark beacons on planes. I mess with my camera and patrol the dark like a captain of capturing what’s splendid. Full moon photos from the high rise. From beneath the bike path’s leafy oaks. Caught between phone lines. (More …)

Courting

by Brently Johnson

Just outside the dwarfed door to the racquetball court he asks me, “Do you have protective eye gear?”

Adam, chesty and Bavarian in build, a colleague at the small university where we both teach, keeps his hair buzzed short and clean, and is in top physical shape. He sets down his bag designed specifically for the game: (More …)