A Peek into Portage: Poetry Preview (Issue #2)

Wisconsin Mermaid                                                                        
by Sarah Rose Thomas

I held my body still
trying to float in twenty inches of bathwater
my toes pointed toward the faucet
my chin pointed toward the light
water silhouetting my face
everything else fully baptized

I was four and this is my first memory
my hair, a halo of sea grass
in slow motion waves on the water’s surface
the forgotten sound of the womb in my ears
a heartbeat in water, not my mother’s but my own

The scratch of porcelain under my fingers
the water, a degree warmer than my slippery body
and I was surrounded by the hum of deep ocean
in my land-locked bathtub

My mother would capture wisps of my hair
stir them like seaweed to clear the suds
my scalp would tingle with her touch
before she flipped the lever that signaled the end of bath time

I would sit in the tub
until all water was whirlpooled away
the drain kissing my toes like starfish

I would press my stomach flat
turn my ear to the retreating water
until only a thin skin remained
my skin covered in droplets like shining scales
evaporating water chattered my teeth
until my mother rescued me

She twisted and curled my hair
lines of water flowed down my back
down my legs
pooled on the tile floor
she scooped me up
with the softness of a towel
and carried me to bed.


Between Moons
by Taunja Thomson

The sky cradled the moon softly after dawn today, then put it to rest and now holds the sun, a beacon drawing bright flowers toward it. Poppies open into small orange and red ponds, ready to hold rain, ants, motes of light.   Bees cover themselves with nectar, revel in it, and share it, waltzing from pearly flowering pear to the flushed blossoms of crabapples. May swells and vibrates with their buzzing.

Orange crescent moon:
a tiger’s claw, sharp like bone
honed from hornets’ nest.


Bury Them Deep
by Eileen Mattmann

We bury as deep as we can the debris
of living, the rubble perversely revisited,
unearthed when digging foundations or holes
for trees, blinking, mole-like in the light
as passersby gawk or turn in dismay,

crumpled bogeymen, under a bed
of decomposed leaves, dreams tattered, hopes
splattered, old loves in heart-shaped boxes,
warm to the touch; some, like chocolates
pinched, still ooze,

memory pieces link themselves in myriad ways,
and who is to say what is truth? Secrets, furtive,
scuttle to corners; hurts, some nursed,
remain red, raw, still twitching, others crusted
with the welcome balm of time.

Cover them, let the remains remain
where we put them, the earth a Pandora’s box,
the only markers a weeping
willow, strangler figs, or the occasional
fruitless olive.


In My Hometown Before TV
George Stevenson

The Main Street of my home town
sloped down to its few flat blocks
of stores and shops, then stopped
at fields of corn and forage crops.

Three times a week Virg Harbison
climbed his dented ladder to place
block letters on the movie marquee
that announced Technicolor films
coming to its single screen.

From velvet seats in the theater’s
sequined-ceiling cave, we entered worlds
beyond our plowed land and tasseled corn.
French musketeers with clanging swords,
ships straining under billowed sail,
ragtime and symphonies, dancers
barely dressed, and men kissing women
on cliffs that overlooked pounding surf,
a million miles from where we sat.

It was a siren call that found us
not lashed to any mast.


Check back soon for the official release of Issue #2!