Spring 2024


“Thirst” by Jesse Treece (Vol. 36.1)
By Sara Henning

“Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation.”
—Buzz Aldrin, joining Neil Armstrong on the moon’s surface

Let’s begin with magnificent desolation,
   the illicit son forged from a rogue Trojan planet

   and the Earth. She was young, didn’t know another
like her was co-orbital, hulking and transitory, owning

the legacy of his namelessness by heading straight
   for her. And when he reached her, she fantasized

that his magma oxidizing her continental plate and crust
   was only date plum, sun-split and cloying,

   spreading all over her. Only God’s Pear,
Jove’s Fire, any sticky moniker, she told herself, not his mantle,

jagged and inexorable, fusing with hers, and how she
   was more like a black sapote driven mad by ripening,

for how the magma branded her, for how a son now
   scattered like a palm seed with a defector’s escape

   velocity. She didn’t know how they would dissolve
together, etherize, then sidle into the shared silicate

vapor atmosphere heavy as placenta, or how the child
   would hold hard to her torque, would anoint her

orbital period with a radiance that would turn every
   scar his father left on her to braids of gypsum.

   How could I not crave this turncoat angel who tidally
locks his body to everything he loves night after night,

how could I not see his basaltic plains scorched
   on the insides of my eyelids during times of syzygy,

when he’s moving over the sun with such unhurried
   circumference he’s got to be inside of her? Remember,

   even with your name in my mouth and your hands
under my dress, I’m only a girl running past the crab

apple tree where my mother buried every cat we loved
   and lost in old t-shirts, and even

with my bare feet pounding the smooth night silt,
   I can hear her singing them under soil.

   I’m a girl stripping off the nightshirt I’m clutching
at my knees, as though later, when I can see him

throbbing through my bedroom window’s open lace,
   I can almost forget the other girls lying

there, thighs disgraced with light, beckoning him
   in full perigee. And when I sleep now, I’ll dream

   that he, not you, is caressing my hair
with incandescence. He’s the one slipping out of my bed,

swollen, and satisfied, and back into transience, before
   I have the good sense to wake.

Sara Henning is the author of Burn (forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press, 2024), chosen by Allison Joseph as a 2022 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Editor’s Selection; Terra Incognita (Ohio University Press, 2022), chosen by Rebecca Morgan Frank as winner of the 2021 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize; and View from True North (Southern Illinois University Press, 2018), chosen by Adrian Matejka as winner of the 2017 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award. She was awarded the 2015 Crazyhorse Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize, the 2019 Poetry Society of America’s George Bogin Memorial Award, First Prize in the 2020 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award (Passaic County Community College), and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship in poetry to the 2019 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her work has appeared in journals such as Quarterly West, Crab Orchard Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Southern Humanities Review, Witness, Meridian, and the Cincinnati Review. She is an assistant professor of English at Marshall University.

Spring 2024