To Foster [essay] by Brenda Miller

When I tell people I foster dogs, they often say, “I could never do that.” Meaning not that they couldn’t open their homes to dogs in need, and feed them and walk them and make sure they’re safe. They mean they couldn’t bear to let the dog go. “I would just fall in love,” they …

3 Bad Boys and 1 Bad Girl [story] by Rebecca Chace

1. Bad boys are always the best kissers. “This is the kind of kiss that leads to something else,” he said. I knew what he meant. The covers were still on the bed and my bathing suit was on under my jeans. There was sand in my braces. Just because I was fourteen didn’t mean …

Sand [poem] by Stephen Kuusisto

I woke to the waves and sand and realized I’d been dreaming of my father. We were in Finland back in the late fifties, a time when it seemed people didn’t laugh. The water had to do all the laughing in those days. Clouds watched the children. There were very few televisions. I remember the …

Rachmaninoff Speaks of Weather: Etude-Tableaux Op. 33 No. 4 in D Minor [poem] by Susan Gundlach

In the dawn of a quiet autumn day’s pink-orange sunrise, gentle light flows across the lake, from horizon to shore, waking birds, lifting spirits, colors thinning as the rising continues, when suddenly, solid green-black clouds emerge from the west, blown in a blur, carried by strong winds, swallowing the morning colors whole. Like confused Valkyries …

The River of Ghosts [essay] by Curtis Smith

A department colleague retires, and when she cleans out her desk, she brings me a shoebox. For twenty-plus years we’ve taught special learning in a public high school. We share a history. We have, in the reticent vernacular of rural Pennsylvania, seen some things. In the box, hundreds of snapshots. Clowning boys. Girlfriends with arms …

Antitheses [story] by Lou Gaglia

Turned-down thin lips, square jaw, pushed up nose: not good. The eighth grade substitute for Sister Crucifix—some second grader’s mother—spent the beginning of Friday’s English class pointing out to the students in so many crabby words who the boss in the room was going to be for the next 45 minutes. Greg was late, and …

Too [poem] by Brian Glaser

1. Sand grains in a young girl’s sandals spill onto the asphalt. A shoulderbag sags with books. The voice peaks— What are you doing, papa? Capitulation of the water. What are you doing, papa? The woman is hatless, squinting in speckled shade. Smoke wafts from a grill. A man carries a boy down an aisle …

Stitches in Nine [essay] by Eileen M. Cunniffe

I’ve commandeered the dining room table, unfurled the cutting mat, lined up my tools. The sewing machine sits at the head of the table, its hot, bright bulb illuminating my immediate work space. My left hand feeds layers of fabric slowly under the presser foot, while my right hand extracts each pin before it reaches …

The Wild Things Go Downtown [story] by Virginia K. Nalencz

In retrospect, Max decided that wearing the wolf suit had been a mistake. It was a Halloween party, but costumes were optional. The host lived in a vast loft in Lower Manhattan, in one of the few slivers of downtown real estate without a trendy name: not SoHo, not TriBeCa, not NoLita, not NoHo. Max …

The Gospel According to Hank [essay] by Robert Loftin

August, 1985 Young County, Texas A pickup towing an empty cattle trailer rattles off the paved road and onto a dirt track. The low sun fills the windshield and empty feed sacks bounce and skitter around in the truck bed. A Hank Williams song is playing on the tape deck and I sing along: good …

The Dead [poem] by Leila Ortiz

Amelia’s hair of snow is pressed away as if to voice an empty space or listen to the grief of music as we drink, Can we really drink away pain, snow ourselves in with music playing? We press close to listen to her lost voice. How her voice still drinks in laughter. We listen closely. …

Mountain Dogs [essay] by Steven Moore

A mother and her puppy are playing on a mountaintop in Afghanistan. Nudging and running, pouncing in the darkness. The dogs are silhouettes on the screen of a thermal camera. Their bodies in motion are radiant whiteness, and the glow they make actually exists; I have not given it to them. The camera perceives their …

1919 [poem] by Stephen Kuusisto

Now the children have climbed into the trees though it’s winter. Look at them, they are both preoccupied and disinterested. {Marginalia} True: the poet hasn’t shown the children. Accordingly you have only propositions. The children high in the snowy branches look like scientists or aesthetes. But are they boys and girls? Girls only? {Marginalia} The …