Issue > Poetry
Kathleen Boyle

Kathleen Boyle

Kathleen Boyle's work has appeared in Zzyvva, The Seattle Review, Natural Bridge, Crab Creek Review, among other literary magazines. She was recently nominated for her first Pushcart Prize.

In Summer


1.
On the Italian hillside we were unfinished,
me in the blue and white shirt, you in the olive one,
we wore each other's clothes and were weightless
with perfect skin, the weather soft and leafy,
light strands of summer. We gazed in and out
as far as we could, we told the truth, mostly,
and I could have lived there, I did, in a city
not so far away. That hillside a lost road
of flowing water and haystacks, paned windows,
round circles where even the forks were luminous
and night was red clouds and violet sky. Outside
wisteria and old vines, the way birds rise
out of stone. It was not my native habitat
though it was my ancestral one, near enough,
a ribbon. Boxes of color and four stone steps
and orange crates—we wanted
the texture and substance of everything.

2.
We had the same bike, blue schwinn varsities,
and followed each other on the paths along the Pacific
which was very clean, except for the tar that washed up
from drilling off the coast, which some claimed
was natural seepage. It stuck to our heels.
Recently a rampage through those streets we knew: DP,
Sabado, Camino Pescadero, Camino del Mar. A bridge
over the ocean as it pours and falls. A given thing,
a taken thing, the way french horn notes
warble slightly, verbs and flashes of migrating birds, red
as a chorus, candlescent. At night we walked to the beach
and sat on the rocks, on one side or another of the stairway
down. Sometimes wind blew in the wrong direction,
tide at the balance point when the portal feels open
and squid move off the coast, the transience of summer
quieted by fog. It was never safe for swimming.

3.
At the hospital the last time I saw you
you were so yellow and your breathing
jagged, incomplete, and you slept
the whole time and what to say
to my once-best friend who is dying?
We were now in my native habitat,
your adopted one, yet it was like the call
to prayer in an unknown language.
It could have been my ovaries that turned cancerous,
instead it was yours, instead the shared shirt landed
with you. The change in me was slow
and continues still. How many senses
we might have hidden. There are no instruments
for measuring color. Afterward I crossed the street,
plum, quince, summer again and the hot white
trilling overhead from every direction.

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