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Summer-Fall '23

The signature of everything that has ever been
LE Francis 

The sky is a song & my body is the chorus, a soft refrain
of atoms that sing from the edge of the universe to the tip
of my finger. Taurus pulls us into a dance. Greedy as the earth
can be, I’ve wanted even more — my tongue too heavy with lead
& longing to match the note, to meet the darkness with eyes
that wouldn’t hesitate to drink the moon. All this to say I have fallen
out of time, out of tune. A string came loose & the whole damn thing
sounds wrong. It seems from here to the end of the universe,
I am wrong & I can’t hear the song or see the sky. Let it die,
my stupid heart, one last time, a final fade into the night.

Inspired by: “Scientists Found Ripples in Space and Time. And You Have to Buy Groceries.” by Adam Frank,
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2023/06/universe-gravitational-waves-nanograv-discovery/674570/ 

Swiftwater
LE Francis 

The river plucks the glass strings of the sky
& their hum slips soft against my ankles,
on this afternoon we are painted
with mirrors & colors I remember
from photos of outer planets,
all light & all dark, jewels
in between; bright as she
kindly tugs me toward
a boulder that parts her
like a sawblade; I shudder


& watch pale blooms of foam
gather, wreathing an eddy.
Will today be the day I fall?
Will I yield to the current?


Skystruck & crumbling as nerves twist
into floodgates & I will slip under
the glow, under this surface of light,
to scream soundless into the cold breast
of the valley — truth & fiction ringing
the same in escape, mellowed by
the murmur of the water around
the rocks, of life at ebb.


But before I take the world into my lungs, before
I surrender to the feeling that I have already fallen,
let me straighten against this spell. I know the water
is cold & fast but I am still, I am unmovable,
my foolish heart burns like the center of the sun.
Let me release the ghost of the fall, let my fingers slip
between the strings of the sky, glass & bright, let them
knot & braid & twist in me. & as the river sings her reply
I am alive, ankle deep in this world, & reminded that
I will be cold again soon.

LE Francis (she/her) is a writer, visual artist, & musician living in the pacific northwest. She is a former arts journalist & the current managing editor of Sage Cigarettes Magazine. She is a staff writer & illustrator for Cream Scene Carnival. She is a co-host & editor of the Ghost in the Magazine podcast. Find her online at nocturnical.com.

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