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Issue Two

Fielding Ronshaugen




When the River came to dinner

he was earlier than expected,

and overstayed his welcome.

He hugged me goodbye

on the doorstep before retreating

away into the late spring gloom.

It felt like the moment of bright

and pure panic, when a wave

pushes the sense out of your head

and you forget which way is up

and swim down as fast as you can

desperate for lungful of mud

and it seems like your limbs and hair

and the water are all getting tangled

together, swim up, swim up, swim up.

The panic, as bright

and pure as a brand new five pence piece.


After the River left (he made no apologies for the late hour)

I went out back

to catch my breath in the garden and drip.

The yard was a soup of mud.

I thought of the smell of it tomorrow

stewing in the sun: heavy, dirty and sour.

He’d left a wavering line of damage to the

paint all down the corridor and the

carpet smelled wet and dank.

The cat huddled on the highest bookshelf,

looking traumatised.

The floorboards glinted with lingering

traces of silt.


I thought of my panic as the River held me,

the way my stomach had felt

hollowed out and sick at the same time,

how my head had spun and everything in the world

had been dull blue grey.

I breathed in the rising smell of mildew with relief.

It was the smell of the River’s absence.



Sarah Good


She must have wished they were right in the end,

that the black or yellow birds were her particular friends,

that a man in a dark coat had sat at the end of her bed

and taken her name to keep it safe,

that she dreamed of the natives moving silently

through the forest to take her away,

and that her heart was an atlas moth waiting

to push its way up and out of her mouth.

When she woke and Mercy was cold and still

against her breast, she must have wished

that she could drink the green out

of the wheat fields in spring and deliver

the strength of tender buds however she saw fit.

She must have wished she could leap up with the old

brush broom in hand and sweep the stars from the sky.


She must have wished she could make the girls

cry out at will, pinched and bruised by unseen hands.

She must have wished she deserved it.






What was she thinking, up at the peak,

at the edge of some other king’s caldera,

with the wind blowing her hair into her mouth

and her long skirt twisting around her ankles

like a nervous cat?


And later when his skin was the fine black sand

of an igneous coast laid out under her hands,

when his lips were pressed against

the damp insides of her elbows,

when he was unravelling her,

what was she thinking then?

Did she think she was lucky?

Was it too dark to tell?


When, on the last night, she saw his shadow

cast against the wall, sputtering and enormous,


what was she thinking?


Was it of her dress on that first day,

battered by a named wind, torn by a treacherous

scramble up the side of an unknown mountain,

flickering tightly around an untouched

and unprotected body?

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