Vander Elst





That time we escaped
County fair bound,
We left Mama couch side
Beneath a Pall Mall Miller Lite shrine.

We set our sights high,
 It was the last day of

Roadside tomatoes, steamy lined up red,
Stopping me and Tommy still.

Of cotton candy rags snagging
Cheeks burned in the fray.
Dust sweat mixed hot
Our bodies weighed in glee.

We, on hiatus, hazy and mad,
Stretched out freedom till
It popped us back home,
Blurring a summer’s day.



My mother was a mist slinking by us
After Adrian died.
A detached reverie of love,
Barely adrift.

The picture on our mantle – his blue-eyed blushing face at ten
Kept him in our fold, shadowed,
Chastely lessening the blow.

We dreamed lucid of
Sweet mother caresses
She slid on us before,
Before Adrian died.

Pariahs, remembering,
Before waking to incessant disregard.

Our paltry attempts
To grasp limp arms,
Pleading for touch,
As if we were the ghosts, not Adrian.

She awoke a late, late morning.
A crimson mess of heat
Tangled in blue sky sheets

To bow to a place low, hazy
To find
Holy mad, holy innocent had fused,
Their only exit, fire.



That blond girl five doors down in the two-story house on the hill
Finally married me one late August day.
Three years later
Love faltered,
Landing me a spot on the black forty-two dollar couch
We found at Goodwill
In a past life.

We’re cautious with each other now,
The civility unnerving.

I unraveled for an idol,
A pick-up line delivered
For a short-lived transgression.

What I forfeited:

Seeing her casually, midday, gather up brown hair,
Revealing softly, sideways, a neck,
Pale and clean.

Hearing “yes, there” sotto voce
On a blue bed.

Watching a smooth light hand cup a swollen belly,
Small, the two of us in the making.

Now I long to lean into grace,
Lift the veil, go home.


Lynn Vander Elst is a native of Tennessee and a graduate of Belmont University, with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She lives on seven acres of woods near Franklin, where she spends her time writing poetry and short stories. Her work has been featured in Maypop, the online literary journal of the Tennessee Writers Alliance. discuss poetry, open-mic readings, writing, and publishing...