Canto of the Earth’s Song In the flowers eye, lashes of goldenrod wink their fringe, dusting petals with the blueprints of the world. There’s a scent on the air of a day forgotten in the woods, wilding witches drinking mead around a bonfire, acrid with the smolder of mugwort. While wandering the murky forest, the ghostly bear searches for her phantom cub. Part shriek, part roar, too loud to be bird, too soft to be nearing motor, she moans and squawks. The sound is vermillion and bronze, splashing the vision, filling nostrils with the pungency of crushed herbs and broken wood. Clouds tumble over treetops like dice. Lightening prays to the sea, a crackling spark, I beg you open, take me in; I am providence, receive me. On my last day walking this miniscule planet, I, too, will throw my cells sunward, expanding with gaseous heat, contracting like dew to land among the clouds.
Ex Gratia I am uploading my new engagement photos. Thoughtlessly using the same app that you and I used all those years ago, the one that lets you create your fantasy wedding and website. Well, machines have memories longer than elephants, and as I open it the screen stubbornly flashes your name in forty-eight-point font across the ornate scrollwork headline. My fingers click the mouse furiously, back, back, back arrow to find the offending field still carrying your name before my fiancé’s attention shifts away from their work, over to my screen. It is not as if we have not all acknowledged you, haven’t all become a strange little family: me and my fiancé, you and your husband, the five of us (with the ghost of our relationship past.) Together at Christmas over baked ham and sweet potatoes. Swatting the mosquitos away from each other at summer BBQs. Folding each other’s laundry over Starbucks and home baked treats. And I would be lying if I didn’t say I don’t think about the future and you as guest at my wedding, all four of us grown old and grizzled together. How you and I had once pictured the front porch, the rocking chairs. How the view has changed since you lived here.
R.B. Simon is a queer artist and writer of African and European-American descent. She has been published inmultiple literary journals, and her chapbook, The Good Truth, was released by Finishing Line Press in July 2021. She currently lives in Madison, WI with her spouse, daughter, and four little dogs.
Guest Editor Hyejung Kook’s poems have appeared in POETRY Magazine, Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Pleiades, and elsewhere. Other works include an essay in Critical Flame and a chamber opera libretto. Born in Seoul, Korea, she now lives in Kansas with her husband and their two children. Learn more at her website.