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Editor’s Choice Award: Rebecca Brock

Rebecca Brock’s work has been published or is forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, CALYX, Mom Egg Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, SWWIM, Whale Road Review and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from The Bennington Writing Seminars and was a finalist in the 2021 Joy Harjo Poetry Contest at Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts. Her first chapbook is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in 2022. Idaho born, she is raising her two sons in Virginia and still isn’t used to the humidity. She has been a flight attendant for most of her adult life and is still surprised by this fact. You can find more of her work at

Amanita Phalloides

The mushroom, white, stunning
and suddenly there, near our house, in a town,
between the 7-11 and the vet clinic,
not out in the dark woods, not even down
by the creek that sometimes broke its banks—just there,
by where we were always walking—
a bulbous umbrella, waiting
like a cheshire cat or a caterpillar
with a face—the boys at that age
of chub and wonder—I used my phone
to catch what I could: their curious heads bending low
just above the wide dome of its rounded top,
that landlocked jellyfish afloat, air instead of saline—
my youngest reached out and picked it—I remember wincing
at the brokenness—things were always
breaking those days, they didn’t walk
anywhere but ran and crashed and hollered—
so often I couldn’t put things back
into any sort of order—I wish now I’d let more be
and I must have wished that a little then, too
because I asked him to show me
and his brother turned to help him hold it—
its head too big now its stalk was snapped,
wobbling the way their heads did not so long ago
when I carried them everywhere
and then I heard the neighbor,
hands pocketed, head at a tilt ask, “Whatcha got there?”
He was so calm. A naturalist
who knew the names of things.
What is it called I asked or might have
but he said to go ahead and put it down
to have the children wash their hands
maybe even change their clothes,
he spoke slow to me, and gently,
and so I didn’t jump at first,
it dawned slowly, and then I moved
the way mothers do.

When the Sky Tips

I force him out each day, my child,
not yet twelve, somewhere in the blur
between log on, assignments due
and our skinny house with his big brother
suddenly the size of a man, his father home
all the time—and all his friends behind a screen.
We wander out the same path,
toward a neighborhood with trees
that are old, with houses alone
and surrounded by yard.
I collapse my eyes enough to see
just the treetops twining
just his small face astonished
by its own self reflecting,
caught between that flight of being,
seeing clear to how to uphold
and bend, knowing
what burdens we bear
to keep us tethered. He takes my hand
tells me to look up
keep looking
as if there is a central point,
a gathering energy,
his, maybe, swollen from me,
formed and hovering—
just as I am, just as we all are
when the sky tips
and the birds lift up
and our eyes follow
trees wandering—
or is it wondering—


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