by CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON
Before actually reaching the mountain, I’d pulled the car over. I wanted to stop and soak in the view—get the lay of the land, so to speak. To the east of Monadnock, I could see a lake, gleaming like a diamond. Trees, so many trees, crawled up the sides of the mountain, but then stopped abruptly, maybe three-quarters of the way up. The crown of the mountain was bare naked granite, which the winds of centuries had rounded into smooth contours.
by KAYANN SHORT
The first swallowtails appear in late May. A shadow over my shoulder, a glimpse of damsel in yellow and black, these flutterings soon occur often enough for me to realize I am seeing more swallowtail butterflies than I have ever seen before.
by TALLEY V. KAYSER
This is the end of the affair; this is the beginning of me being mine again.
Alone and afraid by the fire, cat-track crisp-edged in the mud by the water.
by MARGIE PATLAK
I nursed those plants as if they were my newborns, watering the flowerbed regularly throughout the summer so the tender plugs wouldn’t wither in the hot sun. I envisioned gathering armfuls of indigo delphiniums and golden black-eyed Susans, arranging them in vases with Mexican hat coneflowers, sea thistles, and strap asters. I weeded and waited for two summers as the three-inch plugs grew into tall, full plants laden with blossoms. And then a porcupine ate nearly all of them.
by NED OLMSTED
For myriad reasons, we’re probably hardwired to craft narratives. They’re a balm for our sorrows, a spark to our creative impulses, an expression of our identity, and a way to codify our most important values. Without them our lives would be bereft of enchantment, our imagination impoverished, and we would starve.
by NANCY LORD
Words are among the songs we hear, the sounds carried even into forest. I commit to an October listening: to the plinks of raindrops on leaves, the calls of birds, water running over rocks, the names we give in reverence and dismissal, the past as it informs the present.
by H. E. FISHER
Ocean. This is my autobiography, so be hush.
I started in the wet of my mommy's belly and swam in you, raced, swallowed you. My skin burned in your silver reflection. I dove into your churn and you delivered me.
by HEATHER TOURGEE
The same carbon molecules that lodged themselves in the cell walls of prehistoric swamps, pressed and churned and chemically mutilated to become bituminous, or maybe anthracite, have been burned, released, and sunk into my own flesh and accounts for a significant portion of my own embodiment.
by ELI J. KNAPP
It’s a common, yet chronic, disease. The symptoms are straightforward, but the cure, if there is one, isn’t. It goes like this: If you see something cool, the next time out—perhaps even years later—you expect to see it where you did that very first time.
by ASHIA AJANI
The slopes and nicks of Denver seem to change almost imperceptibly. A catfish joint goes out of business. A neighborhood-run gardening initiative is abandoned and overrun with weeds and empty beer cans. Rent goes up seventy-five dollars. Then another hundred. Then another.
by KELLY GARRIOTT WAITE
Blind Cat sleeps on a rust-colored cushion in a wicker chair in the sunroom. He's on his side, his straight orange back facing me, his face steeping in the sunshine that streams in through the windows.
by CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON
When I was in my thirties, I was an Angry Young Man. I was wrathful, irate, mad, sore as a crab, waxy, hot under the collar, raging, fiery, wrought-up, fuming, foaming, in a red-hot passion, in a pucker, in a huff, in high dudgeon, infuriated, furious, hopping mad, rabid, foaming at the mouth.
by CANDACE R. CRAIG
What Faustian bargain was made to set a river ablaze? How apocalyptic it must’ve seemed in the children’s eyes. But it didn’t often strike their parents this way. For most, this was the price of industry . . .
by REBECCA BEVANS
And I, small being caught in this woolly mess, retreated further into myself, until I was a speck within the body of a girl who was still somehow crouched in lightning position on a sleeping mat inside a flimsy tent at the bottom of Tin Cup Pass.
by SEAN PRENTISS
Each one of us shouting our two-minute notice, each crying what
we most want from that other world [a bacon cheese burger] [a
hot shower] [a swim in a river] [a long night’s sleep] [a boy- or
girlfriend nearby] until this cacophony of quitting fills the air
& steals, for one moment, all our savage fatigue.
by EMILY K. MICHAEL
In darkness, the audience rises, applauding the last performance of the evening. Before I can bang my hands together with wild abandon, I slide my guide dog’s leash back over my arm,into the crook of my elbow. My companion rises from his prone position and assumes a dignified sit, scanning from left to right. He recognizes the applause as a signal for our imminent departure.
by NICHOLAS LITTMAN
When I stepped into a commercial maple forest for the first time, I thought I had come into the wrong place. The maples were there—gray and leafless in their winter drab—but it was what stretched over the snow between them—the miles of black and blue plastic—that made me uneasy. It wasn’t their ugly straight lines or their artificial tautness that unsettled me. It was the idea of what they were replacing.
ISSUE I (2016)
by JENNY RUTH
Photography by WILLIAM C. CRAWFORD
Burning garbage is not illegal around here. I checked. It’s not illegal in most of the county, unless you live in a town where garbage removal is a municipal service.
by CYNTHIA SCOTT WANDLER
Art by MEGHAN RIGALI
. . . sunberries. Mom finds them on the shelf, holds them out to me, tells me that in all her years she has never actually seen a seed packet of them for sale before. Of course I buy them.
by KRISTEN M. PLOETZ
“Do you hear that?” I whisper to my daughter. “It’s the cardinal,” I tell her.
She stops what she’s doing to find him, her lake-blue eyes scanning the lone, leafed-out maple in our yard. His red cloak is camouflaged among the fluttering leaves. Elusive and coy, he wishes to remain unseen.
by TALLEY V. KAYSER
Art by NATALIE VESTIN
No sign of a car yet, thank God. I’m trespassing, and I know just enough about the bad blood surrounding the sale to know that citing my lineage is not going to earn me any privileges. Especially given that I’m clotted with dirt from head to ankle, digging up a past that, by rights, does not belong to me.
by BRETT ANN STANCIU
Art by WILLIAM C. CRAWFORD
Edge is the joining of two places—field and stream, forest and meadow—that mingling of diversity where wildlife thrives, where songbirds nest, groundhogs tunnel, foxes hunt. Where the heavy drape of canvas lay on the ground became a variant of edge habitat for us.