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Red Paint

/carolyn supinka


We need to pick a place to meet, when it happens, you said. In the face of a present tense riddled with fissures,

there is no way to be ready for disaster but maybe we can at least be together. The night before, winds

galloped circles around our house, throttled the door in its peeling frame. Rain streamed from the roof in quantities

the airport would later deem historic and everywhere on the ground: muddy black walnut shells, halved and empty

omens of someone else’s small preparations against an inevitable future. I self-soothe with talk of radios, frequency,

and high ground. Focus on watching disaster movies that collapse fear into cliché with the finality of falling buildings. There are stories

that we crawl under like old quilts, and stories like the shallow end of an ocean ready to rise. I get that nothing is solid, really,

and beneath our feet the earth is moving all the time. The truth is, I wish there was a fixed point where I could meet you. Coordinates that won’t buckle

or scatter. Somewhere beneath the backyard, the earth unmasks, unmoors. Ocean-like and map-less. All location dissolved in light.

Rat Tree

We’ve just moved to this house, and it feels like it’s been winter for years. Every tree

in the backyard is faceless and bare, filtered through the grayscale of December light. Most nights

I can’t sleep, aching from isolation, the articulation of cruelty in the daily news. Everywhere, a loss

as vast and bright as the moonlit snow covering the street. The knife edge of daylight, and at night, a cacophony

of scratching, rats climbing, rats fighting, the crunch of fresh snow under sturdy rat feet. I can’t stop watching the rat tree

because the rats clearly know something we don’t. We’re newcomers, lonely and ignorant

in the ways of our garden and our empty, cold house, whereas rat tree is a party, feral night club, rat central, rat eden, rat island,

rat galactic, blasting off into space. Planet rat, population: multitudes. Their residence is a fire that keeps me warm in my house

as they twist and chatter in theirs: to build a home in the winter air. To shelter in my own fur,

my fear and fury— to build a home with my teeth.

Carolyn Supinka is a writer and visual artist from western Pennsylvania. Her work has been published in The West Review, Sixth Finch, and DIAGRAM,and her chapbook When I interview fire was published in 2022 by Bottlecap Press. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where she creates poems, comics, and prints, and works as an arts administrator and as co-editor of Conjunction, a zine micropress.


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