Spring 2024

Grandma, in the Mountains

by Alison Terjek

Some days—I sprint up hill to slow
my runaway pulse. Sometimes

loss chases me over boulders
until I can’t wring out the pain.

It rolls down my chin as hot tea
mouth—refusing to be blanched

by silence. Some evenings I can’t
store anymore words in my body.

I’m an oversaturated towel—stretched
across the mountains’ shoulder.

Your name climbs out of my throat,
shakes my hands—sounds like “Ma.”

Between gusts and pine snaps I wonder
if I could’ve held everything else better

if I could still hear you listening above
autumn’s labored breathing.

To My Reoccurring Hospital Nightmare # Unknown

We’re here again. This time
I’m disorder masquerading
as a woman in jogging
clothes. Strangers surround
my bed, their questions the
texture of over washed
sheets. It’s time to check
my boxes. My mind itches
with panic. I can’t scratch
the silence swelling in my
throat—it ruffles the corners
of their clipboard smiles. I
half wake to my heart
knocking on my breast
bone—begging to leave this
body. I cradle you—
nightmare in the crook of
my elbow between my
baggy sleeve and squinting
eyes afraid of what the sun
sees. In the dark you burn
me. Over coffee I
contemplate hurting myself.
I scare me more than you
do now. So don’t go yet—
help me fill the white
spaces with other answers.

Alison Terjek is a writer, volunteer hike leader and mental health advocate living in Northwestern CT. She spends her weekends exploring trails throughout New England where she finds peace and inspiration in the mountains. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage, Causeway Lit, Northern New England Review, The Adirondack Review and Burningword Literary Journal.

Spring 2024