Parting the Red Sea
The bog – bolbus
berries blistering red,
burst ripe in the late September
sun. I, captivated, carried courage
in my life before – carelessness.
I returned home from the coast of
clams to find Pa had become one
of the ghosts of the bog. I wade through
red water and I wait in my waders
wondering how long it took the wolf
spiders to eat him. Ma says that I’m wrong
but I never trusted a wolf in spider’s clothing.
I see them every Sunday morning now
on Ma’s day off, as they sunder his body
over and over like they do the flood, the cranberries,
arachnid Moses anew, baptised
in an American red sea. I dip in a toe and lock eyes
with six that hang on to a crimson bulb.
Their leathery shine dares
me to follow, to uphold the family business,
succumb to the arms of the vines –
God below the surface.
This post is brought to you by The Book of Jakarta
Despite being the world’s fourth largest nation – made up of over 17,000 islands – very little of Indonesian history and contemporary politics are known to outsiders. From feudal states and sultanates to a Cold War killing field and a now struggling, flawed democracy – the country’s political history, as well as its literature, defies easy explanation. Like Indonesia itself, the capital city Jakarta is a multiplicity; irreducible, unpredictable and full of surprises. Traversing the different neighbourhoods and districts, the stories gathered here attempt to capture the essence of contemporary Jakarta and its writing, as well as the ever-changing landscape of the fastest-sinking city in the world.
Cranberry Bog Lore
For every berry in the bog,
there is a spirit nestled in the hollow
where the seeds and root should clog
a fruit – beware, for some be malevolent
or immune to prayer.
When a tooth
is sunken beneath bloody skin
newly ripped from umbilical vines
within a ripening womb, the soul escapes
and possesses a new spider as it hatches
from a silk thread gape.
The spiders guard the spirits
trapped inside of the floating fruit
and devour those who escape through
snapped vines and squished roots,
fangs crimson among
farmers’ rubber boots.
Spiders’ souls get hungry too
and when harvest moons rise in autumn
skies, the reapers’ songs are sung
be they old or new.
And when the farmers’ times are up,
the bog is filled with cranberry blood.
About The Author
Haley Byer is a 2020 graduate of Bowling Green State University with a BFA in Creative Writing. When she isn’t writing poetry about food, bugs, or lesbian romances she can be found painting, making music and embroidering flowers. Her work has previously been published in Prairie Margins.
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