Juanita Rey

Bounty

I thought he was a sailor
though I never saw him
ever leave the shore.

But other men 
who looked like him
went out to sea,
caught fish,
didn’t hang out at the bar.

My mother never said
a thing about him
in my presence.
He could have been an astronaut
for all I heard from her.

And he,
those few times when 
he made an attempt to see me,
never told me how 
he made his living.
I didn’t know then
that there were people
who didn’t have 
a living to make.

So I kept on believing he was a sailor
because, being young,
I needed all the beliefs
I could get.

And he once gave me a shell
he’d picked up from the beach.
That was as near as he got to salt water,
as near as bringing bounty home to me.


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Juanita Rey is a poet from the Dominican Republic, residing in the USA. She has been published in magazines such as Pennsylvania English, Petrichor Machine, Pinyon and online at sites such as 2 River Review and Madcap Poets.

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Andrew Bertaina

The Finger and the War

The woman disappeared into the crowd, leaving him in the crush of commuters—perfumes and plumes of cigarette smoke. He’d never seen her before, and he couldn’t imagine what might have possessed her to press the small wooden box into his hand, now tucked beneath his thumb and forefinger.

He left the station and walked into the early morning chill of the streets. The buildings downtown made wind tunnels, and a few purple crocuses appeared hopefully in median strips. His life, like many, lacked something essential, something he could not define but knew, deep down.

The box carried with it, a feeling that he should open it. He wanted to delay that pleasure, and he crossed over three streets, passing pigeons and overturned trashcans, before sitting on a dew-covered bench in the park.  He opened the box. It took him a few seconds to comprehend what lay on the black velvet bottom, the hinges inlaid with gold, an elaborate decoration of a dragon flying low over a river, sketched on the side. It was a child’s finger.

 

It was morning in Poland, and rain fell from a low scrim of sky. They’d walked along the Vistal River looking for survivors, picking among the debris of houses and shops, bricks and smashed wood. Dogs roamed the streets, whining and sometimes sitting dolefully, looking at the sky, as if they, too, knew where death came from.

He couldn’t be sure whether he saw the girl’s finger first, or whether he heard the whine of incoming planes. But there, beneath a pile of rubble, he saw a child’s finger, moving almost imperceptibly. Overhead, the thrumming of a plane’s engine caused him to hit the ground at his sergeant’s command. And they lay beneath the ruins, taking fire. The sergeant asked if they’d seen anything. Had anyone been alive, and the words caught in his throat. His patrol moved out, and he didn’t look back. By nightfall, the dim sound of anti-aircraft fire in the distance, he decided that the movement had been a trick of his imagination, one more thing to be forgotten when he returned home.

 

He slipped the box into his coat pocket and started home—with a weight suddenly lifted from him. He called his boss and asked for the morning off. He got coffee and watched the steam dissipate like the fog of the years.

He realized now that he’d been living two lives since that day: one, where he walked back amongst the wreckage and pulled the child, maybe dead, out, and this other one, where he worked downtown, had married, and had three children. The two lives were now united through the recovery of the finger, and he to himself.

He was newly awakened to life—the pinkish underside of clouds, dark windows holding morning light, small red buds on trees, the piles of last fall’s leaves in the eaves of houses. Yes. He had made the right decision. He could feel it, deep in the marrow.

——

Andrew Bertaina currently lives and works in Washington, DC. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in more than thirty publications including The Three Penny Review, The Open Bar at Tin House, Hobart, Fiction Southeast, Sierra Nevada Review, Apt, Isthmus, Prick of the Spindle, Bayou Magazine, and Catamaran. He is currently a reader and book reviewer for Fiction Southeast.

——

Fabrice Poussin

Dreaming of Bubbles

Into the Black Hole

Systems

To a Far Away Dawn

Welcome

——

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University, Rome, Georgia. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and more than two dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review, and more than one hundred other publications.

 

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