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)
                                                           by one

            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
always there.

   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

  Extremities spread
                    the entire king-sized bed

            mine. Limbs       

holding fast to the
           clearly dissolving          edges of the bed and the

                                                                                     quickly dissolving

                                   memory of  the former

           bed-cloud being

carried away

We made
  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
of us.)

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
                                   like stairs

                                   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 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.

© 2018

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