Spring 2021

Weather Report

by Matthew Wallenstein

Pulling the years
from the air
in this early morning
where the sunrise is
the color of hell

in old movies. It hasn’t rained
in a long time
and I’m pulling
years from the air,
wondering at them,

all those
places
I waited out storms or you,

outside
your bathroom, hospital waiting rooms,
and the bus stations, convenience stores,
streets at night,

the wet fingers, old love
pelting me like hail,
headlights like the eyes of lions,
returning, leaving,
coming back, leaving.

And now the advent

of sun on this house.

All those years I pick
from the air like threads
of hair from a sweater,
and me sitting here
with them. The red light

through the window

spreading,
sectioning me
like a magician’s saw. That red
catching
In my glass next to my hand
dying
the water
to the color
of lips.

Foster Care

H. says
in foster care
she used
to lay
with a pillow across her stomach

because she was afraid
she would be stabbed

while she slept, like inheriting
a violent death
from her father.

She calls me
by my full name,
asks if she can
smoke in my car.

The dashboard
lights on
my old scavenger hands, scavenger chest,
scavenger stomach.

Recollection barges in:
my mother
and the smell of burning oil,

that nonce
of crackles
and tremulous breath

before my name
was called. My mother—
her mind swollen
with her own childhood—
crying onto frying chicken.

All that hell
she carried like a bear trap,
then gave
to me.


Matthew Wallenstein writes weekly nonfiction stories for the Pittsburgh Current. He is the author of the short story collection Buckteeth (2020) and the poetry collection Tiny Alms (Permanent Sleep, 2017). His work has previously been published by the University of Chicago, Albany Poets Society, and the University of Maine Farmington, among others. He is from New Hampshire originally and now lives in a small town on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Spring 2021