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By Krista Varela Posell

You’ve let the dishes pile up this week, which has really only been three days, because you’re at home and using at least dozen different utensils and dishes a day, which doesn’t include the cookware you’re using to make all of your meals, because, though you can’t make yourself do much of anything else, you’re at least managing to cook and get some fresh veggies into your diet; all week you’ve been telling yourself, “I’ll do the dishes after dinner,” but then after dinner comes and all you want to do is collapse in bed and watch Netflix on your tablet until you pass out then wake up at three in the morning to find the show you’ve watched a dozen times still going, still rolling on somehow from one episode to the next, as though the app has forgotten about you, and you miss when it would ask you, “Are you still watching?” (which is probably a setting you could adjust but you’re too lazy to figure it out); so then you tell yourself, “I’ll do the dishes in the morning,” but then morning comes and you just want to get outside for a walk before you settle in to work, because it’s the one thing you can do in the middle of this pandemic, for now, while the air is clear as you wait for the next fire to turn the sky apocalyptic orange; so the dishes keep piling, multiple heaps precariously stacked in the sink that then start to spread to the counter, until finally there are no forks left—not even the mismatched ones from the original set that you first bought when you left your mother’s house twelve years ago and have made it through six moves, even if some have gone missing along the way—and you get tired of washing a single fork when you need it, but then you run out of plates, so you have no choice but to finally do the dishes, which really only consists of rinsing them and putting them in the dishwasher, but even that has been too daunting a task; but it feels good letting them pile up in this way, knowing the inevitability of reaching this tipping point of having to wash them, because sometimes it’s easier to start from the bottom, to tackle a total mess, and know that no matter what action you take, it’s better than doing nothing, which is what you’ve been doing for the past three days while the dishes have been piling—staring at your phone waiting for people who take hours or days to text you back a response to a simple “hello,” scrolling through Twitter to see what stupid thing That Idiot said or did today, looking for places to send your writing but not actually sending your writing, jotting down ideas for essays in your notes app but not actually writing—so you get the water nice and hot, to soak the dried ketchup on the plates, to rinse the olive oil from the salad bowl, to run your hands under the faucet even though it burns—your husband, who does his best to help with this chore when he’s not working four hours of overtime a day on his graveyard shift, isn’t sure how you can stand it—but you like it when the water is scalding, and the whole task only takes twenty minutes, maybe thirty at the most, to plow through the stacks and empty the sink, but when you’re done, drying your red, tender hands on a towel, you wipe down the counter, which is now empty aside from the flowers some friends sent you as condolences for your dying mother—because what else can you do for someone when you can’t give them a hug?—and you breathe a sigh of relief at this small triumph, delighting in its ephemeral tidiness so much that you think about taking a picture of it, before grabbing a bowl and a spoon for some cereal.

Krista Varela Posell is co-creator of Poly in Place and actually enjoys doing the dishes. 

By Alex J. Tunney

After the school day was over, I would walk to my job at the library, which was just out of the way or seemingly always on your way to something else or, more specifically, located on a stretch of road slightly between two neighborhoods and surrounded by areas that aren’t parks but trees grow there unbothered anyway, and occasionally, after completing my assignments—the books ultimately ended up where they belonged—I would hide away, out of the way of supposedly prying eyes with my back against the brick wall, trying to dive into another world while trying to figure out my own because at the time I didn’t have the words myself—no—truly, I was afraid to discuss out loud what I was ‘dealing with’ but the library had a number, a Dewey Decimal number, that classified it: 306.76, which was a number that I memorized and was a shelf that I must have hovered around multiple times before even daring to take a peek of what was located there.

Alex J. Tunney is somewhere in New York and has been published in Lambda Literary Review, The Rumpus, The Billfold, The Inquisitive Eater, and Pine Hills Review.

By Nathan Lemin

The day before the man was evicted, animal control came and the police wrote him a ticket because it was the second time they said, and this time his dog jumped and bit the back of his downstairs neighbor, but only because she turned around just in time, for the dog was trying to eat her cat, which she’d scooped up in her arms as soon as she saw the dog run out of his apartment, and the man wasn’t paying attention, but when he heard the scream he came out and beat his dog bad, so animal control took it to get put down, and I swear I heard it say as I needled the neck scruff:

“I run a lot every day the bike is scary because I pulled it on myself but I get to eat turkey if I run next to it but not if I run next to cats I don’t know why but I haven’t been hungry in the morning sometimes the man gets angry when I don’t eat so then I eat to make him happy the man put a can in my yard filled with smelling things and the cats steal from it and we go to the lake now so I swim and eat the fur feathers poop on the ground it’s cold but good cold I love when the man looks at me.”

Nathan Lemin is the private chef for a couple of mutts and obsesses over liminality in Northern Arizona University's MFA in Creative Writing program.

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