By Mallory Rader
“The Sun Goes Down but Never Out”
If I could swallow the world,
let it swoosh back-and-forth between
my cheeks, sting my taste buds raw,
hit the back of my throat and cough it back out,
I’d save only beech trees in the evening.
A mist of rain trickling from the top
leaves down their center of gravity to
the foundation. I’d choose the way
the lowering sun hits off chosen branches,
casting a blue-gray shade against absolute green.
I’d lie down, let the roots soak me up as water,
and feel like I am full-statured, tall, deciduous.
“Down with Flowers”
My mother bought six cans of paint and
one picture of a sunflower.
She would hold my tiny wrist—my hand
wrapped around a sponge seized with yellow.
My mother remodeled our kitchen after years of demanding
to redeem herself. She bought plates to imitate the
walls and contrast with her breath. Tears poured black
from her pupils and left bruises down her cheeks, landed on
her chin and woke her up in the morning. I stood
at the top of the staircase and jumped off once,
twice, three times—head first into the old furnace,
and the walls turned gray, gray, gray.
“The Slaves Beneath the Cellar Door”
I had never feared what lay beneath
the foundation of this house. I walked
through the same cellar doors as a child,
cradling Barbie Dolls in my arms and carrying
innocence and ignorance on my shoulders.
Over a century year old bodies that still pray
for the beginning of decay, or rebirth, while
humming and honing the memories
that have yet to sink into their pores.
They see me too, in the darkened corners
of cement floors, where they rise in
the morning like forgotten statues –
the unfinished products of an artist
with no passion in his sternum or
perseverance in the prints of his thumbs.
Where they kicked their way through
unforgiving waters and vengeful grasses –
one thin, tan tarp on the divots of
I would carry their bones farther North,
up the newly painted wooden stairs and
onto the floors of my home. I would
tell them, as they sign back to me,
“Do not be afraid of darkness. Let it
wrap itself around the body of your
jaw in an embrace,
like freedom did as it carried you
to its doors and sung you to sleep
in the corner beneath the cellar door.”
"Mallory spends a majority of her time in the fetal position. This posture has created the talent of holding writing utensils between her toes. She is currently working on a Bachelor's in English at Youngstown State University and is not quite sure if the world is real or if we are all Sims characters. She received the 2018 Hare Writing Award for Poetry, the Etruscan Prize for Poetry, and she has been published in Fourth and Sycamore and the Penguin Review."