Issue 2.3

March 2024

In This Issue:
A Street Crossing
Paul Jaskunas
Beachcombing
Zachary Daniel
Elyena Says Hi
D. H. Foster
The Sins of My Father
Jonathan Ukah

Paul Jaskunas
A Street Crossing
A Street Crossing *In the beginning was the Word.* *--John 1:1* A creed unspools across the sky. A pentecostal wind, a blast of cloudcrest lash an old woman on the curb, her faith a gust of ancient air renewed. Seized by the act of recalling tomorrow, she halts in the crosswalk’s white bars. The heavy stoplight sways and blinks, children scamper by. She knows now what she will know then, on the other side—knowledge as frail as a newborn’s breath, in and out, dispersed, a ghost almost not seen, yet felt, a chill in her chest. The pavement of the street eddies beneath her feet as a river’s current does, as Styx was said to caress the ferry. A car horn honks, the day’s design wheels along. She scurries across as the hour swings round again, the usual imposition of minutes, of errands and hungers, the shedding of thought. She leaves behind, for now, the summons of some transparent word, the word for now a secret room catacombed beneath time’s palace, or within an angel’s light-filled womb, a place forbidden, yearned for, the untasted flavor of grace encased as honey inside its comb, the word, for now, an undiscovered home.
Zachary Daniel
Beachcombing
Beachcombing This beach is full of flaws. The ribs and the jaws of one million half and empty shells pock this stretch of surf, but like a grain of sand when angled and examined, their origin can be determined: cockleshell or calico, abalone or nautilus. One must know when dealing with an intertidal harvest what counts for gold and what isn’t worth its weight in hardness. The chaff gets discarded; all value’s in the pick and prod, the honesty of process.
D. H. Foster
Public Burden: Replacing the Bulb
Public Burden: Replacing the Bulb Eight hundred fifty lumens, twenty seven hundred Kelvin— these precious clues I have deciphered from ink-blurred 4-point type on the cold body, on its tapered neck. At lonely high noon my great plastic cart rolls slowly into the aisle contested by cartels of bulbs: LEDs in sundry diffusive globes, cloaked in five-color boxes with nine fonts. Silver triangle corners, pictures of dining rooms, words such as “Natural,” “Enhanced,” “Comfort,” “Precision.” But “800 Lumens” is like “Men’s Shampoo” and “Fluoride Toothpaste.” Every forthright word is embarrassed, crouched up to the decor, like it was the news in the News, like it was a tell-tale earring awaiting day sergeant Sidney and his metal detector.
D. H. Foster
Elyena Says Hi
Elyena Says Hi Her Hi is always loud, an H with two vowels, *HA-EE*! The die-cast Lightning McQueen she is puppeting says Hi. The eyebrows of Gordon the train say Hi. The zippered edge of her jacket waved in and out says Hi. The Camaro outside her front passenger window says Hi. The miles we have come and the hair band for the day say Hi. The long hair floating in the bathtub says Hi. Her latest age, eighteen, says Hi. Between her fingers, my earlobe says Hi, and even the air in some eye-height volume of the room says Hi. The white pill does not say Hi, because we have ground it up in the pasta. The *Magic Tree House* books she can read say Hi. The fricatives she is missing don’t say Hi. James the train says *Mo*! when I ask if she wants to go outside. The pinnate leaf of the mesquite on our walk (after all), and the bees I point out round the bush say Hi. Mom is *Maw*, but I am *Dæh*. Yes is *Yeah*, No is *Mo*. “O’ the Indignity Gordon,” her favorite one, is counted out as *OH EE EE EE EE EE DOOR DOM*! Elyena speaks with her AAC app sometimes: *I want Amy to come*, *I want to swimming with Dad*, or, strangely, *Lightning McQueen is gas*. Elyena’s elaborate 5 by 7 by 18 inch Lego tower, with all manner of arches and windows and spaces, its engagements never coached, never modeled, does not say Hi, she is intent. When she is happy, she goes into her world and invites you. Here the good will greet you with a cheerful Hello. The bad are redeemed in the instant and do the same. The non-existent are called forth to celebration. But on days that bring protests and tears, she is sorry, and we are sorry, and, Elyena, we are sorry that we will die and that you will die. But are we sorry that possibly the day will not come in which your dreams are not made of trains? We peer at the world, and it’s all shuffling poems out there, all adults dragging, wrangling their deep, trainless burrows.
Jonathan Ukah
The Sins of My Father
The Sins of My Father I grew into my father's name without doubt, or guessed it too late to make a change. But whose name should I bear hereafter? It’s the question that burns me to ashes; since I am often mistaken for my father, as though he has grown backwards, like The Man Who Was Born Old. There was a man with the head of a spear who stopped me in the middle of a street. He thought he had lost me forever after I changed address without paying rent. It took two police officers to clear the air that I was not the reincarnation of my father. A week later, I heard the crow of the raven, then a splash of dust on my clothes, my head swamped with bird’s dung. A woman informed me that my father, who kept a catapult on our kitchen roof, slaughtered ravens in the woods. A dog saw me last month and began to bark, wagging its tail and jumping on my trousers. I froze in the heat and stared at the dog, my face blank as glass, white as a wall, before its owner exclaimed, “Jimmy, coma here! It’s not him!” Jimmy thought that I was my father, who lashed him with a club on a play day. I stooped to caress Jimmy's neck and assured him I was different from the man whose face I inherited. The day I dressed up for my wedding, the sky was smiling at me with a million teeth, and the sun bared its seven fingers on my head. But there was thunder as I stepped out, and I was drowning in the storm that came. It was my mother who invented the idea I should hide each time I walked under the moon. My father killed the moon and injured the stars, that’s why they buried him in the water.

The Pierian Springs Logo