Standing Tall

Standing Tall


Pahadisoul (Akshita Sharma) is a gifted cinematographer and photographer based in the vibrant city of Mumbai. With a heart that beats for storytelling and an unshakable love for the great outdoors, she has carved her niche as a visual artist who breathes life into landscapes, nature, and majestic mountains.

The Orchard

My father hated coyotes, implicated them

in every “missing pet” poster we passed. I didn’t understand,

not really, until they took my dog. They must have been

just beyond the fence, eyes glittering an amber light, like yellow flames


in the dimness, yipping, jumping, speaking

a language my dog knew once, but had forgotten.

Like seeing himself in a river: they the bright, sharp jasper and he,

these centuries departed, the smooth river stone.


They led him out into the neighbor’s orchard, where he found himself

trapped, those yellow flames rising, climbing the walls,

he was trapped in his becoming, all those eyes of pyrite

turning in their sockets with each snap, each severance.


Come morning I found the pieces of him, bones

littered around, broken open

like glass bottles they drank the liquor from,

the tufts of fur like flocks of fallen birds, and all of it


gone so cold in its stillness, I’d consider it a painting:

the Goya in the pale hair, the dirt, the vermilion

of Saturn’s Devouring. I hated them for it,

for years, but why shouldn’t they


feed their hunger in the ways they can, have the thing

that climbs into their mouths? Why shouldn’t they,

voracious jewels of stone or glass or fool’s gold,

glitter like they do?


Cami DuMay

Cami DuMay is an undergraduate at UC Davis, pursuing a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She has won two first-place awards and one second-place award for her writing at the university, and her work has appeared in Equatorial Magazine, Hare’s Paw Literary Journal, and by the Moonstone Arts Center. She writes about myriad aspects of life, from intimacy and trauma to nature and insects, but has a particular fascination with the intersection of the natural world and secular worship.

The Twilight Zone

         begins with dissonant strains of the national anthem, further distorted by the rink’s poor acoustics, accompanying the humming exit of the Zamboni machine.  In the white glare of overhead lights, they signal it’s time to “get in the zone” for the free skate warm-up.

You don’t want to hear about the “home of the brave,” or “bombs bursting in air,” knowing better than to take an early victory lap.

         Your group is called for warm up. Skating around twice, getting the feel of the ice. A spin, then on to  jumps. Look confident. Don’t look at others. One more double Axel. The five minutes almost up.

         Skating  first means cutting warm-up short. Going last, losing the feel of the ice, hearing competitor’s applause, convincing yourself you don’t have to pee again. Order drawn from a hat.  You deal with the hand you’ve been dealt.

       The calling of your name, the assuming start position center ice, the waiting for music to begin. In an arena so hushed you can hear your pulse hammering. Breathe. You’re in the air at an angle. Ban the vision. Smile. Just four interminable minutes.  Flirt with the audience after the double flip. You actually land it. Barely. The final spin, so fast the blood vessels break in your forearms. The list of your mistakes, as you wait for the marks in “the kiss and cry.”  At what point does your pulse return to baseline, breathing to normal?  At what point do you emerge from the twilight zone?  Maybe never.

Lorraine Hanlon Comanor

Lorraine Hanlon Comanor is a former U.S. figure skating champion and U.S. team member. A graduate of Harvard University, Stanford University School of Medicine, and the Bennington Writing Seminars, she is a board-certified anesthesiologist and author or co-author of 35 medical publications.  Her personal essays have appeared in the NER (Pushcart Nominee), Boulevard (Notable in Best American Essays of 2020), New Letters, Ravens Perch, Ruminate, Gold Man Review, Book of Matches, Deep Wild, Consequence, Joyland Magazine, in press The Healing Muse and The Rumpus.

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