Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 54
worm moon, 2024

Featured artwork, Capitol Reef Wash, by Kathleen Frank

new works

Nancy Huggett

Trace Element

André, all mindful bell and Buddhist, says, from the bench on the edge of the river where we are sitting, I see your father in you. I cringe, knee-jerk toward correction. I am my mother’s daughter — long-limbed, blue-eyed, firm stride, a ponderer. As far away from stringent, frigid father as is possible without estrangement. But André knows neither; knows me without a pedigree of any sort, except my willingness to walk and dharma share. He cannot fathom my fractured lineage, the solid frame of family roles fashioned long ago. I sit silent, listening to the river. Let this second sight wash over me until a twinge above my eyes, a pinprick of a poke, thrusts through my thoughts. An itch of eyebrow sprouts. Sudden twigs of spiraling grey wire their way into exclamation points across my forehead. Steel-wool strands dangle down and clatter my eyesight, corkscrew their boisterous way across my nose. Unruly bristles twist and turn, explode toward the clouds, bushy beanstalks I shimmy up to meet my Dad, dead now these forever years. And see, in his rheumy eyes, some small invitation that I’m tempted to trace as I reach up to smooth my brow and stroke the link that lurks beneath my fingertips.

Rip Tide

(from Rilke prompt series, Book of Monastic Life, I,39 “My blood is alive with many voices”)

My blood is alive with many voices. Grandma Jessie singing cu-ka-cu-cadookie, she’ll lay no eggs for me, my mother’s faint praise burrowed in marrow, my father’s playful arguments crafted to poke and parry around the Sunday table, that bitch upstairs who’s always saying not good enough, not good enough, never good enough, rarely appeased by the dark chocolate I keep feeding her. Then there’s surfer dude who showed up yesterday saying chill-ax man, let’s catch a wave, take our stuff to the beach. I shush him, but he keeps surfacing.

My therapist says Give him a seat, her eyes impish with dare. Mine narrow. What does she know? There are lists to make, repairs to schedule, pills to split, tomatoes to pick, a whole pile of medical files waiting to tumble, and the freezer wants defrosting—all that ice building in layers on the walls that insulate what sustains me. She’s usually right. Although it might take me a few walks through the green-scented woods to understand.

I clasp my hands behind my head, like she taught me, and shift my eyes to the right until something gives—a yawn. Then to the left—a sigh. The world magnifies. Trees inhale my toxic breath, exhale oxygen into the thirsty troposphere. Goldfinches dart to the dark nyger seeds in the bird feeder. The black squirrels in the ancient oak drop acorn scraps on my head where the voices multiply and swell, surfer dude leading this impromptu choir in a raucous chorus of Rip Tide, pivoting toward me with his outstretched arm. I grab it, get up, and do the shimmy with them all.

Nancy Huggett is a settler descendant who writes, lives, and caregives on the unceded, unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation (Ottawa, Canada). Thanks to Firefly Creative, Merritt Writers, and not-the-rodeo poets, she has work in Anti-Heroin Chic, Citron Review, The Forge, One Art, Pinhole, Rust & Moth and The New Quarterly.