Issue 3.3: Liz Ahl

Elusion by Sarah Marie Kosch
“Luckily, Becca rescued the family photo album before Mother could X-acto all of the pictures. She hid it on the shelf above her bed…”

Heat Index by Brenda Miller and Julie Marie Wade
In the 16th century, shipping companies often paid sailors in rations of rum. The sailors (always wary of the bosses) learned how to see if they were being ripped off…”

Quả Hồng Vàng by Kelly Morse
“That first autumn in Hanoi I didn’t eat persimmons because I’d mismatched books and life. A Chinese apple, your teacher said…”

The Radiators in Ellen Reed House by Liz Ahl
“have been pushing their ancient water
through these plaster walls…”

The Radium Girls by Liz Ahl
“Time used to tick, to trip,
to click between …”

Saturn V by Liz Ahl
“Unlike grief, escape
has only three stages…”

Honeysuckle by Maggie Bailey
“is taste not scent,
memory pulling…”

Alternative Air Source by Bobby Bolt
“If the ocean is only a sequence of shared breaths,

Then you may dream your way across…”

Physical Geography Lecture by Bobby Bolt
“I hope you’re taking notes: The nature of nature
is to move,…”

He’s a wildflower by Austin Eichelberger
“jaw decorated with soft thorns…”

Heat Wave by Jennifer Highland
“Bronx summer streets
smelling of piss and petunias…”

The Insulators by Jennifer Highland
“We try to keep the weather here controlled,
and so we softly barricade…”

Climate Change my Body by Jenny McBride
“The warmest years on record
and my body is coming into its own…”

Last Day to Save on Sarah Jaeger’s “Throwing and Alternative Video” by Andrea Witzke Slot
“sign me up for the master class of how.
Train me to…”

The Palm of Proprioception by Andrea Witzke Slot
“The sense of touch arrives early, long before the others…”

Unpacking by Larry Thacker
“My father is fresh back from Vietnam.
I see this in a memory I shouldn’t…”

Recipe by Patti White
“Say it began with an oven so hot…”

Boûts-Rimés: God’s Grandeur (1934) by Katherine Williams
“In black-and-white, five children in a god-
forsaken shanty of loose boards…”

For My Father, Who Will Someday Die by P.J. Williams
“Likely because his lungs
have turned umber, lost…”

Candling by Annie Woodford
“Short and sort of defeated even then…”

Melisma by Annie Woodford
“You love the radio,
love the thump & pop…”

The Radium Girls


Time used to tick, to trip,
to click between seconds
to dangle at the ends of chains
inside the pockets of gentlemen.


Behind glass, time’s chariot
was driven by tiny toothed wheels,
wound along tense springs.


Time was meted out in minutes
on slender hands painted with radium
so that even at night,
the hour would glow,
could be known and told.


Once, time burned, radioactive,
but still lurched along as if
the beginning and end of a second
could be mapped and understood
as sturdy fences standing
between past, present, future.


Once, hunched over, with tiny brushes,
the factory girls painted
radium ticks and stripes
onto watch faces and hands,
filled in the black outlines of numerals
with deadly luminescence.


And in between brush strokes,
they quickly licked the brush
to keep its tip sharp, to save time,
to make the quota imposed by bosses
who wouldn’t go near the stuff.


Some of the sassy girls, their shifts over,
even painted their nails for a lark,
for a dark boudoir surprise.


But then they started losing teeth.
Their bones reinvented themselves.
The radium girls did not glow;
they bent and ached and died.


Even now Marie Curie’s notebooks
are too hot to handle, and so I stow
grandpa’s fishing watch, stopped now
but still glowing, in a basement lockbox.


Upstairs, I’m lit with pulsing curiosity:
what girl’s pink tongue licked the brush
that painted the hands that told my grandfather
when to pull his creel stuffed with rainbow trout
from Coffee Creek and start the hike home,
to the woman who would outlive him by decades?


What girl’s glow still ghosts
the space between those stilled seconds?

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