Issue #43

Liberty Dam

Haylee Schwenk

We left the cold hospital

walls after needle pokes,

injected dye, you inside

a magnetic tube, good news

always, always qualified.

Leaving, we start to count

the redbud trees, in defiance

of their name and their neighbors

offering purple-pink oases

along the highway.

Out here, spring is covering

every other stationary living thing

with a yellow-green haze,

a reminder of life still left inside

what appeared dead.

On the trail, iridescent flies alight

on damp earth flecked with mica

shining in the sunlight

still able to reach between

barely budded branches.

The path to Liberty Dam

cuts through a stream, and even now

you offer your hand to keep

me steady on shifting

stepping stones.

The water from the reservoir

spills over the dam, flows

white on brown mid-century

concrete, and we watch the swallows

rising and diving.

As hawks glide into view, I realize

good and bad are not neatly divided—

sometimes the muddy path sparkles,

and against the mesmerizing waterfall

I cannot tell the birds from their shadows.

Haylee Schwenk lives with her partner and daughter and two cats near Lake Erie, which, as the smallest and shallowest of the Great Lakes, is teaching her to reject labels and appreciate beauty wherever it appears. She loves cooking and feeding people, has recently become acutely aware of how much love surrounds her, and practices poetry as one way to understand life. She is very grateful for many generous writers who offer community and counsel, both in Northeast Ohio and beyond. Her work has been published in Great Lakes Review and Pudding Magazine, and she occasionally posts at

*Trigger Warning: the next poem mentions child sexual abuse*

the bath

Brenna Womer

Brenna Womer is an experimental prose writer and poet in flux. She’s a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Washington & Lee University and the author of honeypot (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019) and two chapbooks, Atypical Cells of Undetermined Significance (C&R Press, 2018) and cost of living (Finishing Line Press, 2022). Her work has appeared in North American Review, Indiana Review, DIAGRAM, The Pinch, and elsewhere. She is a Contributing Editor for Story Magazine and the Faculty Advisor of Shenandoah. Find more of her work here.