Blog : Beautiful-Things

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Talk to Her

Talk to Her By Michael McAllister   |  March 1, 2021
I once took a job with a major online retailer, listening to the words that people spoke in their own homes to a voiced virtual assistant I'll call Amaya. Our ragtag team of English and Linguistics majors tapped away on laptops, categorizing the words for the developers so she’d respond better over time, listening to the private words of a faceless people.

On Sam Mountain

On Sam Mountain By Mary Lane Potter   |  February 22, 2021
At the peak—932 feet above the Mekong floodplain—beyond the holy caves and the Cham, Buddhist, Hindu, and Mother-Goddess temples that litter the twisting pilgrim road, a mother and father are teaching their young son how to pray.

Purse Candy

Purse Candy By Cora Waring   |  February 15, 2021
There's a single, beat-up black jack bobbing around my purse, its wrapper feathered from accidental collisions with lipstick tubes and wallet, the once-bright stripes gone gray. The taffy inside is stone hard but still offers up a spicy licorice warmth.

The Perfect Day

The Perfect Day By Lisa Hadden   |  February 8, 2021
The images are still with me thirty-five years later. The weather in the Northeast Michigan woods on Grand Lake is warm, heavy with fragrance of late summer, cedar pines, sandy soil, the water clapping the edge of the land. The turquoise sky turns to twilight with a soft glow of lavender rising.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers By Brie Deyton   |  February 1, 2021
Another set of packed bags. After another get out now. This time my mother, sister, and I landed in a trailer across the abandoned tracks. Fake wood paneling on the walls repelled all light, and years of cigarette smoke made every surface feel singed.

Le Sacrifice

Le Sacrifice By Terri Kent   |  January 25, 2021
Mom, sitting on the floor among a group of cross-legged Girl Scouts, teaches us a song in a language none of us know.

Leeches

Leeches By Katie Walsh   |  January 18, 2021
When we get home from the hospital, I realize the electrodes are still stuck to my father's chest and back. He says that it hurt too much when the nurse tried to remove them, so he told her to forget it. The confusion makes him this way, irritable and impatient.

Drawn In

Drawn In By Lisa Huffaker   |  January 11, 2021
I got better at drawing when I began to think of petting an animal. I sent my eye running along the spine of a thing, felt it warm and alive, arching its back into my palm. I moved my eye like I'd move my hand, stroking an edge, pressing against the body of a mass.

Rubber Tourniquets

Rubber Tourniquets By Kristin Engler   |  January 4, 2021
My four-year-old son plays with the blue rubber tourniquet from his latest hospitalization. A nurse tied it around his arm to insert an IV into the tender part of his forearm near the crook of his elbow.

You Should Ask for More

You Should Ask for More By Rachel Sudbeck   |  December 28, 2020
"Am I sad?" I ask my dog, because it's not something I recognize anymore. Sadness had come so thick and urgent for a while that the quieter emotions don't register like they used to.

Car Keys

Car Keys By Bridget Lillethorup   |  December 21, 2020
“I can drive today,” my partner said, and I tossed him the keys over the hood of my 1999 Jeep Cherokee. Up went the key to my mom’s house, which opened a small home of wall-papered, floral prints and a retired woman shuffling in a bathrobe, slowing sipping coffee . . .

The Ledge

The Ledge By Anna Reid   |  December 14, 2020
We've come to Switzerland and we're in love. It's the crisp air, the towering waterfalls and majestic peaks – a guise to hide the death that lurks behind the exquisite landscape where we've flocked to feel alive.

Real Mom

Real Mom By Mee-ok   |  December 7, 2020
Until I decided to come to Korea, I hadn't realized how special my mother was – how selfless, how enlightened. Most adoptive parents of her generation can't understand that searching for our origins isn't a direct affront to them. In truth, it has nothing to do with them at all.

Jars of Daybreak

Jars of Daybreak By Robert Erle Barham   |  November 30, 2020
Roused before dawn, my siblings and I stood at the edge of the kitchen and marveled at gleaming red jars that filled the room. Our parents shuffled wordlessly from stove to kitchen table and back again, their bright faces like blacksmiths' flushed by forge light . . .

After Hours

After Hours By Rebecca Turkewitz   |  November 23, 2020
My grandfather wakes, confused and flooded with his body's toxins. "Sit down," he tells my grandmother. "We're going around a bend." He thinks they're on the train forty years ago. He reaches for invisible handholds . . .

The China Tea Set

The China Tea Set By Aisha Ashraf   |  November 16, 2020
The china tea set, wrapped in tissue paper, nestles in its warped cardboard box on the shelf inside my mother's wardrobe. She draws it down gently, as though not to wake it, places it on the bed, slides the lid off.

Photograph

Photograph By Sarah Ives   |  November 9, 2020
I push through the brambles and climb over the rotting, peeling fence that inevitably grabs at the cuff of my pants. Getting snagged, I always seem to fall cursing onto the beach, an unfitting way to enter the quiet beauty.

A Good Day to Die

A Good Day to Die By Shannon Cram   |  November 2, 2020
What I remember is the salt that formed in his pores like crystalline grains of sand. A million tiny specks covering his skin. Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. The hospice nurse said that this meant his sweat glands were shutting down, squeezing out the last drops of his life.

The door with the fresh coat of turquoise paint and brass hinges

The door with the fresh coat of turquoise paint and brass hinges By Jennifer Todhunter   |  October 26, 2020
I open the door to see if you're there, the door with the fresh coat of turquoise paint and brass hinges. There is a noise, a constant; it could be the rain or the thick of my heart in my eardrums. I've never heard this sound before . . .

The Hart

The Hart By Kelly Gray   |  October 19, 2020
He steps out of the grass like a god. Thick necked to hold up east-to-west spanning antlers which in turn hold up the entire sky, three clouds and a Northern Harrier. I am caught off guard by his emergence, how he comes from nothing into everything.

Grandmom's House

Grandmom's House By Karen Langley Martin   |  October 12, 2020
Our house was like a radio playing six stations at once: brothers arguing, piano keys banging, lawn mowing, blender blending, phone ringing, dog barking. Stepping inside Grandmom's house was like that moment at the YMCA swimming pool when you duck your head under water and all the noise gets muffled and feels far away.

Before the First Frost

Before the First Frost By Stacy Murison   |  October 5, 2020
The yellowed aspen leaves shimmer like so many pennies against the setting sun, almost frantic in their last-dance enthusiasm for the night's forecasted hard frost. Your neighbor's forgotten garden has little to offer: one ghostly chalk-colored squash that just a few weeks ago was a cheerful orange trumpet blossom.

Waste Not

Waste Not By Desiree Cooper   |  September 28, 2020
My parents are old and inert, their bones want only to be still. There's not much we can do for entertainment, except sit here, and then for a change of scenery, sit there.

Flicker

Flicker By Vince Puzick   |  September 21, 2020
I watch her snap the skateboard's tail to the street just like her boyfriend does, mount it, one foot at a time, steady herself and roll to the corner. Her right foot steps off, kicks twice, three times, she accelerates, wheels click on the sidewalk's seams.

Mom's Nighty

Mom's Nighty By Jonathan Rentler   |  September 14, 2020
I started wearing Mom's nighty after she died. “You don’t remember?” Grandma asks. “You used to spray her perfume on ribbons.” Pink fills my skull. Satin dipped in distilled forget-me-nots. Little boy fingers tying bracelets around small wrists.

Black Hair Matters

Black Hair Matters By Marsha Lynn Smith   |  September 7, 2020
My toddler grandchild sits still on the carpet between my knees, her back cushioned against the sofa. I consider detangling her springy hair coils. Should I fix her hair similar to the way my mother did mine? Most school mornings, she would twist my bristly hair into a short, thick braid.

The Greatest Unease

The Greatest Unease By Irene Fick   |  August 31, 2020
Flying over deep water in the inscrutable dark. We are doomed. I hear the pilot slur his words. My neck is stiff. I feel a headache coming on. My legs begin to cramp. The anxiety pills make me nauseous. The line for the loo snakes down the aisle. The plane begins to jerk.

He Gave Her the Honey-Sweet Berry of the Pomegranate to Eat

He Gave Her the Honey-Sweet Berry of the Pomegranate to Eat By R.S. Wynn   |  August 24, 2020
In the produce aisle, I consider genetically modified pomegranates: ruby globes that overflow my palms cupped together. But the one I choose to bring home I pluck with my thumb and forefinger. Pitted and tawny, my pomegranate looks like what it is: a seed pod . . .

Your Dad's Not Here

Your Dad's Not Here By Susan Hirsch   |  August 17, 2020
“You don’t have to go in, Mom,” my son said through the phone. I was standing on the porch, holding the phone, and knocking on his dad’s door.

Fog

Fog By Annie Penfield   |  August 10, 2020
Low-slung fog canvasses our narrow valley. The film of haze blurs the trees, rubbing out their distinct edges. As if the forest is fine print and I am trying to read it without my glasses. This morning I awoke thinking of my old brown mare . . .

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