By Adrianna Sanchez-Lopez

Early in the morning, before the sun elongates her limbs through darkness, I watch you watching me and I don’t want to hear I love you; instead, I want to stretch my body into dawn’s vast reach, tongue unsubdued—reckless, tasting the shape of language like fermented earth, like air, I whisper: husband mine/sagrada tierra/misericordia/swallow my heart/digest it in the four chambers of yours/breathe through the pores of my lungs until each exhale squalls through this bruised lacuna between us, my secrets escaping your organs, unveiling my distorted reflection as if it’s staring back at me; carbon dioxide escaping lips like an explication, searching, refrain after refrain until you understand why I cringe away from touch (even your touch), gripping my mom’s pain with clenched teeth; eyes closed, her spirit crushed to colorless dust strewn across cold linoleum; witness how two quick blows to her abdomen recur in my dreams while my father turns, walks away and leaves child-me to run to her ashen remains; witness as decades later, still thinking about this moment, adult-me checks her pulse, removes her oxygen tube, calls hospice to confirm her death, levers the window open for doves to carry her soul away—I want you to know these junctions like I know them; wild, rapacious sounds gush from my lips: sanguis/sangre/blood—pebbles of speech pocketed into small, nebulous lexicons: from childhood Sundays spent at mass; from listening at my grandma’s kitchen table; from mourning the many devastations of my mother, craving the safety of your earth like a hunger in me that seeps into every splinter of memory, every dream, every lie, every promise (fear) that threatens with poisonous, rotting seams.

Adrianna Sanchez-Lopez is a writer, teacher, and mother living in the San Luis Valley.

Photo by Jason Thayer.

By Lee Anderson

The garden lights itself on fire and the first thing I smell through the kitchen window is burnt tomatoes, zucchini, basil, like a dinner party for inviting no one but ex-lovers to, and I am stuck gripping the ceramic edge of the counter while my husband rushes out, stamping on blades of fire, billowing his shirt like he can produce a big enough gust of air to simply blow it away, wondering why we don’t have a garden hose or anything at the ready for emergencies like this—like what if it were planned and this implosive bonfire were something where we could throw the past or present or just anything we felt we could no longer hold close into the flame—and the white paint on the scalloped cabinetry overhead begins to crinkle and sizzle, melting, dripping on my forehead like Ash Wednesday; I know it’s over, it’s all over, peppers and squash consumed by something we can’t predict or even stop, when he looks at me through the smoky window, eyes pleading, and I can't even look back at him when my ring slips off my left hand and into the sink basin, circling and circling and circling the drain.

Lee Anderson is a trans writer with roots in the Pacific North-, Mid-, and Southwest, landing in Chicago with an MFA from Northern Arizona University; their writing can be found in Salt Hill Journal, The Rumpus, and Gertrude, among others.

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

By Briana Feinberg

You are unfathomably infinitesimal—our entire planet is a mere tenth of a pixel seen from the edge of our solar system, four billion miles away; so minuscule that all 7.7 billion earthlings could fit inside our sun a million times, and that same sun could fit inside UY Scuti, our galaxy's largest star, another 1700 times, that star being so large that a single revolution around it would take 10,000 years, that is to say this December would mark the end of an orbit that began long before the oldest ancestors on our family tree lived, before Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart and George Washington and Shakespeare and Joan of Arc and Jesus and Aristotle and Hatshepsut and even Gilgamesh, an orbit that began before history was recorded, when the woolly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers were drawing their last breaths back in January of this very, very long year on our very, very little planet full of the tiniest living beings, of which humans make up only .01%; and that enormous star is one of several hundred billion in our galaxy, which is itself only one of a hundred billion galaxies in the universe—and yet you, my dear son, are made up of seven octillion atoms that came into being 13 billion years ago and have seen the interiors of stars, traveled through galaxies, erupted in ancient volcanoes, crashed onto ocean shores, passed through dinosaurs, and maybe even Beethoven or Einstein before forming the unique and unfathomable you.

Briana Feinberg is a museum educator, stay-at-home mom, homeschooler, and Buy Nothing aficionado, who delights in experiencing cosmic vertigo.

Photo by Cindy Dean Jones.