Three out of nine days, writing for William Talbot was a joy. The other six days his time would be better-spent fishing. This typically gorgeous morning in the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, Central Mexico, where the air strokes the skin like a lover, started out one of the joy days. But then the telephone rang. A low down bedroom whisper asked for him by name. He thought she might be one of his students. “We need to meet right away. You have information I’ve got to have.”
Couldn’t be about her grade. After the university back home refused to give him tenure he quit and came down here to teach tourists, hoping to connect for romance. He did not give grades. “What information?”
A sharp intake of breath carried over. “On a foreign phone? No way.”
He visualized a tall and willowy brunette spy with a classic bob, short of lip, long of bone, and with knowing eyes. He cleared the morning tequila phlegm from his throat and dropped his voice down into the gravel-in-tin-bucket range. “What’s your name?”
She lowered her voice an octave and the image took on a high-arching upper lip and a game under bite.…
Mary Burk didn’t have much on top so she had to work her booty. Fourteen years old and still no period. Her mom told her breasts wouldn’t really develop until that happened and in the meantime, she should make do with what she had.
“When Aunt Flow is late,” her mother told her, “It means you’ll be taller, and thinner than your classmates, and then those boobs will come on like gangbusters and if they don’t there’s always plastic surgery.”
Mary wondered if any of her friends had mother-daughter talks like the ones she had with Ellen. That’s what Mom wanted Mary to call her now.
“So we can be girlfriends, right?” Ellen said. “Now let me show you how to move that ass.”…
He reached down and picked up the locket. It had been smashed into the mud by a passerby. There was no chain. The eyelet at the top of the locket was bent open, but the locket was still clasped shut. The day was warm and bright around him, the street bustling with movement and sound. On a telephone line above, a collied blackbird told the story, and no one listened, not even the man holding the locket. His heart felt lighter than it had a moment before.
He said of her, “She is smart—really smart.” His closest friend, a woman with short-cropped curly brown hair and tight lines radiating from the corners of her mouth, thought that he meant She is not beautiful. He meant that her nightstand overflowed with books, that she would rise suddenly in the small hours of the night and trace her fingertips along the spines lining her bookshelf to retrieve an exact quotation, that her intelligence rattled in him an ego he hadn’t realized was there. Hanging from the corner of her antique roll-top desk was a long silver chain. On the end of the chain was a locket. He stared at it while she quoted Goethe.…
Sarah-Jean Krahn is the Managing Editor of feminist writing journal S/tick and holds an MA in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory from McMaster University. Her writing appears in various anthologies and journals, including Berkeley Poetry Review and Feminist Studies, and she was recently nominated for a Pushcart.
Please describe your website and your duties as editor/writer.
I like to think of S/tick as an ever-growing creative collaborative community of feminist writers and artists. In keeping with our mission to publish things that are difficult to say or hard to find a home for, we strive to share as many feminist voices as possible by currently publishing 50%+ of the submissions we receive. To some degree, S/tick snags the poems and stories that have been relegated to an eternal time-out, castigated as too complain-y, too feminist, too real. I think the message of our current logo, which depicts a headless mannequin sporting a dress made of the inverted Canadian flag, is clear: women are in distress, yet their voices are continually undermined.
It is always so exciting to connect with another writer who has stumbled upon our website and found themselves home. And it’s wonderful to see that many other online feminist journals are out there so that as many voices as possible can be heard.…
Emptiness eats at the heart, more surely than time itself,
yet some days we are blessed with company
enabling us to see just beyond the emaciated self.
Though the day ahead seems barren, a friend
will sometimes bring along all the light you lack to coast
above the dour grey slates and chimney pots.
So we make our soup of fresh tomatoes and basil
in the garret kitchen, and the knots in the stomach
loosen their grip as we make ready to eat and talk.
No time now for last year’s man, or any lost inventory
of sights not seen, things not done, time wasted
in procrastination, or dreams hardly begun.
And though we are still both dreamers of sorts,
we stand beside immense facades, telling the other
there is no need for touch, or sex, or love.
Since there is no reality we are sure of, we hide behind
what is lost and won as though we might meet
on equal footing – intrepid explorers as we are.
Only there is no purpose to the proposed dialogue,
no nostalgia beyond the marathon already run,
just the veiled silence of years avoiding dead ends.
– Mark A. Murphy…