THE LATEST IMPRESSION
By Jaclyn Costello
Pre-dawn stumbling again.
A somnambulist mountain
trekking off the crumbling trail
again. This time I lost a limb. My heart.
Cairn to pulley
pulley to belay
Belay me against the flat rocks
hidden in the crevices
the rocks wear against us
our soft bodies
conform to each other.
We find another cairn
between the two faces. We must be going
the right way. Asleep on stone
pillows. Cuddled in the hollows.
You are somewhere between three truths:
I am here. I am alone. It is October.
I’ve fallen in love three times
in three passing elemental Octobers. My three
mineral loves (sand, stone, and grey slate iron)
though they were born in December, December, and January
like me. All of us fell from
the same clump in the sky
One by one
not too far apart
because why would one fall
(following gravity to be born)
and leave the others behind
in the sky? One
(the necessity of weight not yet discovered)
The cycle of the leaves:
they leave, I leave, December comes.
December leaves when
January comes. I come. We come. Someone leaves.
We cannot stay in October.
I didn’t want to return here—
the seasons change just twice
each year. I’m better prepared four times
a year. Suffering the icicles
before seedlings grow into lemon
trees. The lemons drop
before the fall.
Here there are two seasons:
the oppressive heat
and a dry, mild winter.
October is between them.
Step outside. Outside the window.
I’m here in the falling leaves.
There are no
leaves. I’m asleep
going backwards to the red rocks. The backyard valley
fire. Back to Mars, Jupiter, all the planets we
—transported ourselves to
fleeing the weight—
—set foot on together
feeling our weight—
(us pointing to us in the mirror
us pointing to the others)
They were not us. They were
I wake with the wind
without the sun. I stir with
this change. The constant gone
A swap in an angled
look at myself
a brunette starfish with no pajamas
hugging the bed
the curtains take a deep breath revealing
First Choice Manicured Tree Service
hedges and shaved palms
the entire king-sized bed
holding fast to the
clearly dissolving edges of the bed and the
memory of the former
love legs sprawled
our bed-cloud levitating us levitating
everything levitating but our hearts.
I’d like to hike to a place filled with still pools
that captured our reflection climbing the mountain
a thousand years ago. We
weren’t afraid to be taken upward
by the wind. Were we taken
upward by the wind? Was there direction?
(us pointing to us in the mirror. us pointing to the others. scared of the others—they weren’t
We start to wonder this: am I going to be alone—I am always alone, but have I begun to age?
I make a promise to myself to be more composed. In control. As a lady
should be. A graceful, self-assured (benevolent to snails)
soul. Not to make myself small to remain assured.
It is October. The finest leaves
are shedding their trees to die
underneath our feet, again. Once more
Halloween is pepita-sprinkled and gathered in
pillow-cases already filled with candy and black straw
witches. We throw our pillows on the floor
making room for more digestible pleasures.
Almonds and apples. Even here it happens.
Jack-o-Lanterns stuck in Joshua trees.
“In the desert. Still? Are you still in the desert?”
It happens here.
Someone grew a cornfield! A firefly farm!
They grew it here for us. We charged through
that field, corn-chowder fed and dressed as cartoon
vegetables. You. You, a gigantic pea. We met here
in a maze made of corn, in a city that made us.
The city made us—then left us alone.
Us, alone in the crackling corn
pulling the bells to locate ourselves
and to bring us back to where we were first lost
so we could start over again looking for all the clues.
We never found all the clues.
My loves aren’t lost. I know where they are.
They know where they are. They know where I am.
There are bells and chimes to locate us. We all
still love each other. Through the
Wives. Children. Business plans.
Burglaries. Distance. Pleas.
When diaspora was just
something we did in pageants.
When diaspora was not this
displacement of excessive water.
When did it begin to imply arms
swinging downwards? The
cloth-water wrung out to drip dry?
This waiting for the crumbling mountain
trail to lead us back to what? you were like me
and you wanted to stay. you never had
a home. you never had a home. you were
like me and you wanted to stay settled no longer forced
into this pilgrimage this self-inflicted wound rage
pilgrim. “an episodic life, to keep you young”
Is there another way?
We all want peace, but we’ll never find peace
because the truth will always move us.
(He dumped a gallon of water on my orchids
before leaving for Miami.)
I began to cry when we drove past the Whomph-
bush forest. It burned to the dirt while you were away.
The black stumps of the Joshua trees still leaned towards
what must have been
the clean air their
(no longer there)
bushy tops reached for
before the smoke smothered them.
Miles around the base of the mountain
you noticed my tears. “You’re crying,” you said.
You thought it was for the trees.
It’s not for the trees, I remember the fire.
“Maybe someday they’ll grow back.”
I sat outside a wooden barn
once thinking this is all just the beginning
of my little evolution. I am still young.
The rustle of the leaves
sounded like applause.
There was an epileptic goat inside that barn.
I sit with my back against
the cold-faced rocks, the alabaster
slabs used to make things
The rustle of the leaves
sounds like applause
—the way we sounded
against the charcoal stones.
Jaclyn received an MFA in Fiction & Poetry Writing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she is now an Assistant Professor in the Honors College. She is also a Spiritual Guidance Counselor at GrowWithSoul.com. Her fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have been published by Pochino Press, Crab Fat Magazine, Rivet Journal, Tiny Buddha and elsewhere. She is currently seeking an agent for her first novel, as well as a home for her debut book of poetry.