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Issue #49


Undercurrent

Holly Pelesky


At the art museum, I stare at paintings of water

thinking how my children first lived there.

I held it and it held them.

My body an ocean, an ecosystem

swelled around their emerging forms.

Maybe that’s what draws me to it:

its sustaining body, its destroying force.


In memory I notice earlier that my sister

is drowning: the twist of her face, the gargle of her breath

when I learned she wasn’t joking, when I screamed

for help to dad, who, in jeans, dived in and saved her;

me right beside her in disbelief.


I’ve never felt as capable as my father.

Raising children has been joyful but that’s not to

say it’s been a picnic. I’m afraid I never did

stop panicking. My sister used to jump

out from behind the bathroom door every time I opened it

to scare me. I learned to expect it, but every time I frightened.


Did I too once float in an ocean inside my mother?

I must have began there

but all I know is being terrified, perpetually

reminding myself that I’ve learned not to drown.





Deleting Selfies

Holly Pelesky


I have one sad eyelid

the left with an extra crease—

a cowl for all I carry

but wish I didn’t


I inherited

the droop from my father

the desperation from my mother


one of them wouldn’t get up

the other wouldn’t sit still

both of them live in my cells


When I look at pictures

I see half my face smiling

the other half mourning


I can think of no more

exact asymmetry

than this want to become

Something and this urge

to disappear



Holly Pelesky writes essays, fiction and poetry. She holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska. Her prose can be found in The Normal School, The Nasiona, and Jellyfish Review. She recently released her first collection of poems, Quiver. She works, coaches slam poetry, and raises boys in Omaha.


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