Sean Mahoney’s “It was the lightning…” & Stephanie Heit’s “Underwater Arbitration” (Zoeglossia)

It was the lightning…

by Sean Mahoney

…and wife telling me she has to isolate
for 14 days due to an apparent exposure
to Covid-19 at the hospital. She sat on
concrete just where the rise meets the flat
at the end of the driveway. The Impreza
running with the bright lights behind.
She was star-bursting and I could not
read her face. Touch her. Kiss. Was she
furrowed with concern or burdened with
constant demand for compassion required
at an over run and still-surging hospital?
All units flummoxed and floored…amid
more and more cases.

And as full of unease as I was, as 2020
just kept on sucking, I’m floored by
the lighting of this moment…she
as wisps of starry hair, outline, voice. My
partner of geode years. What if she positived
and got whisked into isolation for her final
10 days on the great irregular circle? And we
could not finger-to-finger lock…Not just
the lighting, the deviations, rather the honey
of her shapes and outlines, gentle creek of
bi-colored hair, concern adrift. Sergio Leone…

What if? What needs addressing? Passwords,
monies, paper trails, locations, time. People
need information just…if…What of the dogs?
Hollow. Horrible at the idea of tiny
horrible funeral marches. So many. So
gone through. I felt gross for thinking
about finances…now of all times…
when your radiance calms me, allows
me less worry as the singular tear…..


*Writing Prompt: What types of lists you would make if you were never going to see the person before you again? First consider the context of your relationship to this person…are you family, friends, lovers, other, coworker, teammates, partners at a rave… Then consider what would you need? want? ask? remember?

Underwater Arbitration

by Stephanie Heit

              make an oath: we aren’t in this together
you   distant flashing wings   me   
yes  there are animals of various toe counts 
populating our respective environs          yes  amphibian-dextrous 
              I can chameleon all over your terrain
      you forget the answer
                                              pull an ellipse
                                                                  spook the delirious edge
leave town like tumbleweed                                   
              no light
              no bootprints
              no claws
                            what is your molecular attachment? 
                                                                                    patterns of growth
              is it a fang-it & gristle kind of day?
                                          I more flutter 
                                          & glide 
                                          more gelatin & tentacle dream
                            the rift between our words
              loose gravel
              binocular porn

*Writing Prompt: Write a poem underwater. What lives there? At what magnification? Describe the dynamics on a macro or micro level. Field note preparation: spend time and space with water. This could be a dew drop, a river, an ocean, or tuning into the water in your own body. Track your sensations. Take notes. Follow your impulses onto the page.

This issue of The Hard Work of Hope is produced in partnership with Zoeglossia.

Sean Mahoney

Sean Mahoney lives in Santa Ana, California with Dianne, her mother, 3 dogs, and 4 renters. He believes that Judas was a way better singer than Jesus and that dark chocolate is extraordinarily good for people. Sean helps run the Disability Literature Consortium booth at the annual AWP bookfair…lit by crips. Except 2020, and this year cuz well…Covid.

Stephanie Heit

Stephanie Heit is a poet, dancer, and teacher of somatic writing and contemplative movement practices. She is a Zoeglossia Fellow, bipolar, and a member of the Olimpias, an international disability performance collective. Her poetry collection, The Color She Gave Gravity (The Operating System), explores the seams of language, movement, and mental health difference. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Sonora Review, Rogue Agent, About Place, Ecotone, Anomaly, Bombay Gin, Dunes Review, Typo, and Disability Studies Quarterly. She lives on Three Fires Confederacy territory in Ypsilanti, Michigan where she creates Turtle Disco, a somatic writing space, with her wife and collaborator, Petra Kuppers.