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By Neema Avashia

Baby writhes on the changing table, furious at this momentary loss of bodily control, until she catches sight of the bangles glimmering on my wrists–three on each, two thin, one thick, solid gold engraved with thin filigree, made from my mother’s melted-down wedding jewelry–and grabs hold of a bangle that I then slip off my wrist, slip off a second, hand them to her as distraction while I change her diaper, connected in this instant both to my own mother, and to generations of desi mothers who have worn bangles not just as adornment, but also as entertainment, as announcement, as omnipresence, the glint and jangle offering this sharp jolt of intergenerational synapse, babies and Ammis and bangles past, babies and Ammis and bangles present, babies and Ammis and bangles yet to come.

Neema Avashia is the author of Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place (WVU Press, 2022), and lives in Boston with her partner, Laura, and her daughter, Kahani.

Photo by Neema Avashia.

By Matthew Merson

Since your mom is visiting after the funeral, please pick up while you’re out: Laundry Soap; Candles; One dozen eggs, large, brown; Buttermilk; Sausage, the spicy kind we usually only buy at Christmas; Green olives, the big jar; Toothpicks, so we can feed each other without dirtying the dishes; Ice cream, vanilla; Maple syrup; Kumquats; Skirt steak, like the kind we had in New Orleans on our anniversary; Blood oranges; Mushrooms, your pick, you always spot the good ones; Tomato soup, in case I feel lonely; Butternut squash, so I can make your favorite when you feel alone; Bonzini, head on, whole fish, you can grill it in aluminum foil with thyme and lemongrass like when we were first married and we would eat down to the bones, pretending we were somewhere in the mediterranean; Cheddar cheese, the Vermont kind so we can taste our first love again; Fig jam, the jar with the orange lid, the same kind we ate along the Pacific with brie and french bread, sitting in the sand talking about the love we just made; Strawberries; Rhubarb; Basil for the pie I want to make; Pita Bread; Chickpeas for the hummus you make me on Sundays; Bok Choy; Asparagus; Purple potatoes; Peaches; Pistachios; Butter, salted; and Wine, for God’s sake do not forget the wine; the good bottle with bull on the label, tonight might also be our last.

Matthew Merson is a high school science teacher in the lowcountry of South Carolina where he lives and plays with his wife, two kids, and dogs. His other works can be read at Apocalypse Confidential, The Basilisk Tree, and Hidden Peak Press.

Art by Hannah Leach.

By Thomas Mixon

October’s sky is so plump with undelineated stars I do everything I can to keep my eyes Earth-bound, which is difficult since the hills on the turnpike crest without warning, the trillion distant suns begging to be seen, tempting my eyes upward instead of left and right, where I should be looking, where the GPS (had it not failed) should be tracing a glowing line to First Unitarian, the side streets sporadic, on sign posts bent for some reason (and only two rhymes: Aquarius Road on the right, then Sagittarius, after that, then the rest (I wonder had I never overheard you talk about astrology, if we would have ever spoken, of course I knew you, of you, from the punk shows (had been yelled at for favoring the volume of your vocals at the expense of everything else, when your band showed up and I was on the mixer) we both couldn’t keep away from even though we were sick of that crowd, those same tired chords (but what else was there (save for hanging out in the parking lots of the three fucking Market Basket grocery stores on the same fucking stretch of road, the first of which I’ve just passed, the second coming up, and thank god the last one is beyond the church, because if I had to see all three tonight I don’t think I’d be able to keep my word, Sydney, despite both of us promising that, no matter what, we’d stop each other’s wedding, no matter how far into the future, no matter how many years had passed since we last spoke) in Billerica) from the same shitty speakers and sound system at the Boys & Girls Club, but it wasn’t until I heard your bullshit about moon signs that I summoned the guts to tell you off (I wonder had I saddled up and said how deep your lyrics were, how cool, if you would have placed me in your mental pile of Sydney sycophants, just another guy trying to make the only female punk singer in our little hamlame/shamlet of New England feel special) and say you were wrong, that it didn’t matter what goddamn day or month we were born in, that nothing’s ever pre-decided) of the zodiac) and of varying heights, so that I don’t know where to look, Sydney, everything is upside down, I swear tonight the Milky Way’s below me, and what’s above are echoes from the firecrackers that we once set off under the grocery’s red awning, which ended badly (for the store, for the seagulls in the parking lot, for all our stupid vows) just like driving to you now is dumb, just like the decades that we haven’t talked are sparkling with cold unknowns, distant, magnetic) with a pledge fulfilled, but my soul still empty.

Thomas Mixon has fiction and poetry in Barren Magazine, Wrath-Bearing Tree, Rogue Agent, and elsewhere.

Art by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado living in Oregon, by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.

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