At A Time by Laura Lee Washburn

for the madeleine

We travel one second—one nano
second—into the future, every one
of us, wedded to until death do we
travel one piece small at a time.
Can we time travel, jump, forward
into our future? Yes, we must go
really, really fast, the astrophysicists
say, atomic clock on the jet airplane.
At eight kilometers a second, the space
station astronauts age slower
than their earth brothers (and sisters,
friends), traveling time faster in space.
But we can’t come back. Go fast
into space, into our futures, age
slower in your giant rocket, but
you can’t come back, and no time
travel matters if we can’t. Nothing
in the future requires change or
attention.  Only the past, littered
with our dead, jumbled with our
bad elections and ridiculous errors,
failed rhymes, missed or extra conceptions,
is worth the trip. Besides, physics disintegrates
us.  The home team loses the championship,
your arm breaks in eight places, no one
sees the clot moving toward your brain.
So Margaret grieves as golden grove unleaves,
so Maude finds herself on the shelf, so
everyone more temperate than summer.
Even then, the home we long for,
the thick oak trunk at the back door,
its dentures puppet clacking, screen
door spring snapping behind you,
fig tree milky with green fruits,
all that old dominion, no longer exists.


Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri. She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

Monthly Editor Lori Baker Martin is Assistant Professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), The Little Balkans Review, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, and The Maine Review. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin has been awarded for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices.  She is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.




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