Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 55
strawberry moon, 2024

Featured artwork, Lost for Words, by Andrea Damic

new works

Bethany Jarmul

The Flow State

I dive headfirst into the off-white abyss of a recycled-paper page. The possibilities, like seagulls, are limited by my imagination’s glass walls. As I’m sailing the waves of creativity, I feel seasick and grab hold of a line—a college-ruled line or a through-line—and as I pull, the thread unravels the page. Tree tendons, sawdust strips, shredded love notes, blacked-out bank statements and secret wills all appear on my desk—words chopped, sliced, and diced, as if by a cruise line sushi chef. I press the alphabet bits onto wax paper, bake them in the oven on 375℉ until they shrink into a keychain-sized cat. I can’t say if it's dead or alive.

Self-Soothing Is for the Birds

A turkey bobbles through a clump of trees. Frightened, he fluffs into a full strut, showing off his feathered, heaving chest, to ward off the impending danger: a robin worm-hunting, oblivious. Inside, my two-year-old daughter pecks my arm. I’m not afraid, she says. Of what? I ask. She flits off to play with a wooden woodpecker, oblivious. I’m nestled in that night when an untamed thought roosts in my head: WHAT IF MY HUSBAND DIES? How would I provide? How would I survive?

On my body, feathers grow in place of hair, a beak breaks through between my cheeks, my feet become claws. I’m transformed—fully fowl. Finally, I stretch my wing and pat the warm lump next to me. He’s there. Breathing in-and-out, in-and-out, oblivious. I pet my wings, my down-feathered belly, my scrawny legs, trying to soothe my ruffled feathers, trying to calm my hummingbird heart, trying to tell myself it’s true: I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid—not believing a single note from my avian throat.

Bethany Jarmul is an Appalachian writer and poet. She’s the author of two chapbooks and one poetry collection. Her work has been published in many magazines including Rattle, Brevity, Salamander and One Art. Her writing was selected for Best Spiritual Literature 2023 and Best Small Fictions 2024, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, and Wigleaf Top 50. Connect with her at bethanyjarmul.com or on social media: @BethanyJarmul.