We don’t linger long enough to read spines, but we always peek: Skinny red, like hymnals I held as a kid, a believer. Crumpled cover of a child’s paperback. Cotton candy colors: a series in pastels. Inside the repurposed birdhouse today: two jars of peanut butter. We’d been railing— President’s tweets, online teaching, the guy moments ago who passed us dead center down the sidewalk even as we spilled onto grass. Now we stop. The dogs sniff a moment, then tug. They don’t know why we’ve been home a month, why I sobbed over last night’s soapy broken glass. We nod, keep going. We don’t say anything for a while.
Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. She is also the author of A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky, winner of the 2017 Vella Chapbook Award (Paper Nautilus Press, 2018). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, Sidereal, Stirring, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband and dogs in Lawrence, Kansas.
Editor-in-Chief 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, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review. Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.