Spring 2014: Issue Three


What Did You Do Today?

No doubt you’ve been asked, perhaps by a partner, an acquaintance, your own child returning from school: “What did you do today?” Maybe you have asked yourself: What have I done today? What have I achieved? How do you respond? “I sold two paintings.” “I closed a deal.” “I ran 10K.” Do you respond with the

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A Curse and a Blessing

The zygote that became me was formed inside a poisoned woman. Tina’s heart was pure and strong, although it was broken by the man who provided half of my DNA. The heart is a symbol of love in the same way a skull and crossbones signifies a poisonous substance. Sometimes the two collide. Tina’s blood

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Mothering

Mother knits you from snot & silk & memory, building your tiny bird bones from her own teeth and glass upon glass of full-fat milk, or else she finds you & your valentine heart, builds a nest from light, sap & broken branches, circling the wild air, singing your homecoming. You have her eyes even

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Lebanese Kitchen

It’s six o’clock: I’ve barely closed the front door behind me and already the sound of arabic mixed with french mixed with english the smell of fresh garlic mixed with all-spice mixed with lemon clings to my thick brown hair. Mom’s kitchen is the closest I have to my grandmother to my grandfather to the

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The Length of the Court

In the twisted sheet hours I unmuffled my head to decipher my son’s sleep talk knees banging against his wall          uuugh (a grinding growl) The doctor says I take notes at every appointment just like my mother,          maaaaaaa a lurching as she is lost to me, a

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Tiger’s Milk

This thing always seemed too tame or domesticated. Beyond you with muscles & tattoos your hitch-hiking skills and ability to tie all seven essential knots          (the clove hitch, the half hitch) too fecund too essential how could you make milk: nurse or be nursed? (the verb, the noun) Sadly you picture

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Are You Listening?

Your child, who is joyful, creative and loving, metamorphoses at age 18 into someone you don’t recognize. She becomes a raging, frightened, lost soul who slams doors and forgets how to dress, sleep, talk coherently or perform any of the things we all do so naturally. What do you do? Knowing that your child is

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Milking Sunshine

River withdrew into the corner of the barn and cautiously watched her mother, Lily. A few months earlier, River’s parents had transformed the old backyard shed into a home where a goat could live. The goat was to replace the dog River had always dreamt of owning but her mother prohibited because of her allergies. “The

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Stolen Seconds

Sometimes I steal into a quiet garden to stand by the washing line Laundry forgotten in my hands as my eyes search grey skies Looking for something, searching for something Seeing everything but noticing nothing I breathe deeply and release one long shuddering sigh A breath held without conscious mind Waiting for just a few

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Marianne Claire Rivers, 1851

From the Editor When Catherine Brunelle sent the manuscript for The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending, I agreed to publish an excerpt on Understorey based solely on the strength of Catherine’s writing and her determination to bring her book into the world. Claire Never-Ending was self-published with funds raised on Kickstarter. In other words, the book

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Vox Humana

“Last Summer in the Old Craig House” from Vox Humana Musk melon, moth skirt, with those skin-like petals that come in pink and white. Mauve pink, for musk, our mother, that summer our brother was born. Gold spun hair on the gun-metal green lilacs, put there to help the fairies build their houses. And fairy-rings

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A Conversation with Lesley Crewe

Cape Breton mother and author Lesley Crewe has published six acclaimed novels, including her latest, Kin. Lesley’s first novel, Relative Happiness, will be released as a feature-length film in 2014. Lesley spoke with Understorey editor Katherine Barrett about motherhood, grief, and creativity. How did you start writing novels? I was working as a newspaper columnist in

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Forever

I want to tell you about a moment, gone before I was able to gather a thread of thought. But once you know, its presence never leaves. It winds around you as mist, a wind that swirls, unseen but always felt. It only comes to you after losing someone you deeply love. We lost our

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