issue 32 poetry

When you turn 52.

by Michelle Lizet Flores

Cloves by Mary Senter

When you turn 52.

You are now the age your mother never was.

You’ve never seen an empty nest before–
space and clutter.

Who are you
when no one
depends on you?

Here are some instructions your mother couldn’t leave behind:

Step out to the yard
barefoot. Dig your toes
through the earth.
Breathe her in.

Pluck a mamey.
Smell it.
Hold it to the sun.
Consume it.
Plant the seed
where your feet stand.

Speak a poem
you will never
write down.
Your conjuros
will only be true
in this way.

Break off an aloe leaf.
Extract the gel.
Rub it on your palms
your cheeks
your thighs
your chest.
Say thank you.

Lay down.
Watch the clouds drift.
Watch the sun fall.
Breathe in the Florida sunset.

Go back inside.
Boil ginger.
Pour it
in a copper mug.
Let it burn your tongue.

When your husband asks
where you’ve been,
tell him

you’ve been alive.

Michelle Lizet Flores is a graduate of FSU and NYU creative writing programs. She currently works as a teacher and co-hosts the What’s in a Verse Poetry Open Mic in Jacksonville, FL. She has previously been published in magazines and journals such as The Miami Rail, Chircú Journal, and Travel Latina. A finalist for the Juan Felipe Herrera Award for Poetry, she is the author of the chapbooks Cuentos from the Swamp and Memoria, as well as the picture book Carlito the Bat Learns to Trick or Treat. Her short fiction can be found in the forthcoming anthology, Places We Build in the Universe through Flowersong Press. Find out more at

Mary Senter creates in a cabin in the woods on the shores of the Salish Sea. Her work can be found in North American Review, El Portal, Drunk Monkeys, Ponder ReviewCleaver, and elsewhere. She is the founder of Milltown Press. Visit her at