T H I R T Y – T W O

I’m surprised to see you;
after the lifetimes this stretched-out skin
—this hive-of-busysadangry-bees mind
—these over-firing neurons
—these pulled-too-tight and SNAP! strands DNA
have seen.

Thirty-two.
In eight more years, I will be exactly twice the age as my eldest daughter
—or, “her daughter is half her age;”
she’s
“too young to look that old;”
“a baby with a baby;”
…infantilized constantly.

Told I’m too young to feel this tired.
But newborn children must sleep for seventeen hours
and maybe it’s because the world is too little and too much,
all at once such a wondrous blur but I saw a colour in nature I’d never seen before and it made me hyperventilate
and there’s a train building up speed five miles away and sometimes I think about laying on the tracks, just to see just to see
and a jet-engine is roaring and I think how often does an airplane crash into bedrooms at night
and is it always a moment of sad, desperately sobbed prayers answered or
does everybody feel the world moving in their veins?

Thirty-two,
who even are you?

A ghost
A child
A mother
A sister
A sister
A sister-
in-arms.

Thirty-two;
I’m surprised to see you.

But I wouldn’t run towards you, hopeful,
if I didn’t believe every year of you has been worth it,
and the next eight, or thirty-two, or (if I’m lucky) sixty,
will be as beautiful
as Just This:

Thirty-two,
I see you.

Taken at Carden’s Cove in Marathon, Ontario on the coast of Lake Superior on the poet’s birthday, July 17, 2022.

Hot

Katrina Kaye

It’s a hot night.

A walk around in bra
and cut off jeans night.

A what I wouldn’t give
for refrigerated air night.

The kind that leaves
sweat on abdomen.

Beads of moisture
around hairline.

The kind of night
that makes me crave

a cold beer to press
on heated flesh,

a swirl of cigarette smoke
over my head.

It would be a good night
for honest conversation,

for philosophy and poetry
and genuine laughter,

for being close to the
heat of another body,

but far enough to not
burn from the touch.

I lick my teeth
and raise my chin.

I transform
animal, untamed, restless.

I am eager
to turn off the lights,

certain I will
glow in the dark.

Calculation of Water

The smell of rain on dry dirt 

is a measurement of drought. 

Away from the desert, we don’t 

talk about drought as much. We’re 

concerned about it, but at a distance. 

I make vanilla rooibos tea 

with kettle water on mornings

when the air isn’t pushed down 

by humidity. One common mistake 

is to believe there’s no problem here 

with water. Distance is fallacy 

when we talk about there being 

almost two-thousand miles between 

the open-mouthed cooler now full

of collected brown tea water 

that we left out on the deck this past week 

and fire smoke hovering over thirsty 

desert land, prayers in flames. 

Make a map for me where your tea water

sits on your stove all the way to my kettle, 

the land where you are and the land 

where I am. Fill up the kettle 

with rainwater. Fill up the kettle 

with water from river. I’m not even sure 

what the river would say to this.

The equation for rain is the absence 

of all the car exhaust. I read 

about fish being filled up 

with anti-depressants, heart meds, 

other pharmaceuticals. Fish water 

is the length of the water for my tea, 

the depth of yours. Every day the rain 

is ours, even if we go without.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

The Fatigue

By Gina Marselle

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” ~Louisa May Alcott

The fatigue is real.
Inevitable,
like a ship sinking
or falling red wood.

My eyelids must close.
Even as I write.
I have to stop.
Place my pen down.

On the pillow
my head caves.
My body curves
into a fetal position.

Meds to high.
Meds to low.
Autoimmune
has a mind of her own.

Sadly, they come in pairs.
With marching orders:
“Take her down.”
“Be invisible so others don’t know.”

Napping is for babies.
But I am a mother of a 22 year old,
A nine year old. Nap I must.
Why does my body betray?

I sit so quiet. Eyes closed.
Meditate like still clouds in the sky.
I am the storm.
Wounded, but not defeated.

Fighting for a quality of life
that is more than
one foot in the grave.
That isn’t lead by anxiety & depression.

It is always exhausting—
to the point I am just alone.
No one wants to be around that doom.
It’s okay! Look away.

Turn the page. Walk away.
Forgotten–
like desert dust
after a monsoon.

I am not offended.
I don’t even want
to do anything anyway.
I may cancel our planned coffee date.

I may call to just cry.
There is nothing you can do,
but I sure appreciate
just knowing you care.


>Did you know:

“Nearly 4% of the world’s population is affected by one of more than 80 different autoimmune diseases, the most common of which include type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis and scleroderma.

National Institutes for Health (NIH) estimates that they collectively affect between 5% and 8% percent of the U.S. population. For unknown reasons, the prevalence of autoimmune diseases is increasing.”

>Personal Note:
I am personally still learning about my disease. It took 14 years to finally get diagnosed with Hashimoto just 12 weeks ago. It is suspect that I have another autoimmune disease and will find out this week after other blood work.

I am sharing my story because people with invisible diseases or disorders often suffer alone. It’s sad and horrible. It is also difficult to get out and be around people. I also have severe anxiety and depression (depression comes and goes, maybe affected by Hashimoto and my mother’s death). Newly diagnosed with PTSD. Suffering from GI issues, it is challenging to find health. I have stayed silent for the most part, minue close friends and family. Sometimes it feels like just complaints, and humans don’t want to listen to complaints, especially without hope.


Image from:
https://www.quotemaster.org/autoimmune+disease

On days like this

Katrina Kaye

One days like this
I feel like the pills
stopped working, that
I need a higher
dose and I consider
calling my doctor,
saying I can’t
get out of bed, saying
there is nothing
here for me.

On days like this,
I hug friends for no
reason and don’t let go.
My dog’s brown eyes make
me cry when I have no time
to take him for a walk,
and I think I need a
new prescription,
to call someone,
to disappear for a while.

On days like this,
on days like this,
I think of my mother
and how she has made it
through days like this.
I must make it too.

On days like this,
on days like this,
I think of the clever words
I should have written
in bathroom stalls
in big, black sharpie marker.
I think about what
I should have be said
the last time we met
and how that moment is
forever gone.

On days like this,
On days like this,
I think of the woman driving
the bus the same age as me
and wonder if she’s happy.
I think of all the little
lost marbles and pens
that never had a chance
to run out of ink.
I think about the rock
not pretty or special enough
to be collected and
the way the world ends
when you die.
I think of the promises
I made to myself and
the silence that came
when I broke them.

On days like this,
on days like this,
on days like this,
I don’t know if I can
make another day
like this.

Transparent

Katrina Kaye

I am nothing,
if not transparent;

skin a shallow
cloak
clearly
spotted with
intentions
colored and
shaded by layers
of cells
unfurling.

I am missing teeth,
the stubbornness
of religion; I am mourning
more than I thought I would.

I am combat.
I am ridiculous.
I am nothing
but a smile
and a lazy morning.

I am coated in silent patience
and an empty womb; I am settled
in the sunlight of afterthought;
a million miles removed.

I am nothing
if not easy to
see through.

I am ghost,

transparent,

nothing.

Against the tides of war

Some of the best dancing 

happens at home in the kitchen, 

in the living room. I don’t often

dance, but sometimes a body 

needs to shake off shame

of the world. Right now, I dance 

as if there were a deep ocean 

at the meeting of my thighs, 

one there to keep invasion 

at bay, a noble prevention 

of blown-out buildings, 

of bowed heads. All 

of the horrors that go 

with war. We have been 

watching them unfold, 

shocked, even though 

we knew they would come, 

knew they would be there 

in this new war. 

*

Long ago, the goddess looked 

straight ahead like a deer watching,

like a wolf, like a lion, a bear. 

She cast spells of love and justice 

with each spoken word. 

The goddesses today 

have been made into statues 

with lowered gazes 

as if the air were already dust.

*

I dance in the kitchen 

with lights on, music eases 

out of speakers. I want to dance 

hard enough to sweat, for rain 

to fall, for peace to be 

a spell we can still cast.

—Liza Wolff-Francis

Spring Garden

g.marselle

3.26.2022
I root and dig for bone, shell,
and radishes.
I find potatoes and worms.
The peppermint is sprouting.
Its green, creeping stolons
are stark against desert dirt.
My dogs dig.
They find little treasures.
A bird’s beak,
a steak bone.
It’s like a witches brew
instead of a spring garden.
Still, I dig
allowing the cool earth
to slip like blood
between my fingers.
The spring air is unseasonably warm
and hope travels
as songbirds whistle,
as ants wonder in and around the mint.

Disintegration

Katrina Kaye

I am no longer
tied to
the tangible.
I spread
wings. I fly.
Dripping
flesh from bone,
leaving cells
skipping
into the wind.
I wasn’t built
to be statue.
You knew it
the first time
you grabbed
my hand and
it dissipated
like sand.

 

Waiting for Tragedy

(For the people of Ukraine)

Today, we stare at the architecture of war,
how core and studs crumble and quake
after an explosion. It seems we have lost,

the ways we look at our humanity,
forgotten how to connect with wildflowers
if we don’t own them. I peek, as I can,

from my screen into the blown-out
buildings to try to uncover something deeper
about this attack, to understand

the appeal of killing another human,
of taking of their cups and saucers,
their quilts, their children, their shoes,

their photos. We can chalk it all up
to power, but it seems like we’re making it
okay again to lose lives, to invade

a country, a people, to steal a place.
The humanness that spills
from the mounting bloody rubble

of war is stuck between tanks and guns.
The couches, baby toys, wooden tables
where families sat to share a meal,

a daily routine, toasts, and memories
left behind to the bombing of humanity,
the grotesque secret of us revealed.

The unsacred sacrilege of murder
that war calls for, sketch of bravado
or terror until collapse;

the tallest bombed buildings of homes
speak first with their height,
then with a stumble in the wind.

-Liza Wolff-Francis