Creative NonFiction Issue 29

What Gone Looks Like

by Leah Claire Kaminski

Crazy Snail and Backseat Driver by Igor Kasev

I eat my first mushrooms in traffic with my sister on Seven Mile Bridge. I’m a small notch in the metal spine of cars cooking over the hot sea. Over the old bridge running next to us like a mouth missing teeth, a powerline runs and dips. On it a pelican strung up charred, hooked by its cavernous beak.

I enter its gully of a mouth, its graveyard of fishes. Later the sun sets through mangroves, black boughs woven through the slow-burn sky.

Islands made of green, volcanic with life growing over itself in the dark. And in my chest voracious desire. I’m not there but I’m watching. My teeth crumble, fall. Into my hands which must be taught to catch them.

Later in the light place there’s a small lagoon, hidden, that I’ve been to before. It’s slipped into a pocket of my memory, and it’s there like a postcard I can dive into. It’s behind that strip of land and there are people there, and there I am as a woman-child, and it’s everything I pretended I’d found then. It’s a mind free and flying, it’s how a body is only safe in water.

Slash pines lean up, up, against a blue sky printed with cicada sound. My mother screaming in the dirt road. Screaming after my brother, who’s gone. I think she might be holding a broom. Today she wears printed boxers, no bra. I see her there still screaming now.

In a dark town around a dark scrubby square on the gray sidewalk walks a strange gray creature who takes my hand. I am small, I am small, I am scared, I am home.

Rain on North Avenue, and the middle of my body is something like the entire world on fire, and I’m grabbing the doula, and I’m grabbing the car’s cloth ceiling, and I’m screaming louder than I’ve ever screamed.

My baby falls out the window and flies, he flies, flips into a far-down ocean. He’s gone, he’s fine.

A child in a mask, running on yellow leaves from a locust tree after fall rain. He is not my child but he could be, blond and small and moving away from me. I never thought, particularly, that my life could look like a life like this: one with autumn leaves and a quiet street with a small safe school that I drive to singing. That’s some mornings. Other mornings are not this morning.

I find an extra room in the house, a space that feels like the inside of my body, it’s the now-burned house but here it’s filled and filigreed, it’s beautiful. All my stuff is here, all our stuff, burgeoning with life, not gone after all.

Leah Claire Kaminski‘s work appears in places like Bennington ReviewHayden’s Ferry Review, Massachusetts ReviewPrairie Schooner, and ZYZZYVA. She’s the author of three poetry chapbooks, two of which are forthcoming in 2022: Root (Milk and Cake Press) and Differential diagnosis from the Santa Anas (Harbor Editions). 

Igor Kasev is a creator of chaos art. After a career in tech and AV project management, he discovered art as a way to unwind and connect with himself. Igor often uses rollers to paint and layers cut-outs onto canvas. Sometimes he’ll produce a deeply personal piece, and other times you’ll find him exploring messages he wants to portray in his style.