by Emily Mohn-Slate
Originally published in New Ohio Review Issue 25
Featured Art: Walk Behind the Beach Huts by Barbara Peirson
I don’t want to tweet this thought that comes to me
as I’m changing my daughter’s diaper—don’t want to pull my phone
out of my pocket—my phone is growing a tree right now
with an app called “Forest” that rewards me for not looking
at my phone—and what I want is for a thought to enter,
to hold it in my head, spin the words over and around
until they’re smooth, but I should tweet soon, I haven’t tweeted
in days, and now my daughter needs me to be here with her. Still,
I want to hold a thought like an orange, peel it in pieces,
which I can’t do while I’m circling
a Band-Aid around her finger either, kissing her hand, swiping
the notification, scrolling, scrolling—Mama, watch me! Look at me!
I’m looking but my phone is a hot siren in my pocket, I touch it
but—my digital tree: its roots are thickening now, its pixel flowers
blooming, white petals, yellow center—I want to watch
my daughter learn to hold a crayon—three fingers making
a little house, a splotch of pine, her mind unfolding.
And where is my thought? It slipped out the window
of my daughter’s new house, its comet tail vanishing.
What distracted animals we are—wanting loud, wanting now.
But how do I ignore all the shine when it arrives?
Can’t it be enough to be alive with my daughter
in our dry winter skins in April, surviving until we slip
our feet sockless into sandals, when I can witness,
thinking or not, her giant puddle-jumps, her
whoops of joy? Yes. And I will grow this tree
in my pocket, and I will look at her. I will.
Emily Mohn-Slate is the author of FEED, winner of the Keystone Chapbook
Prize (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019). Her writing has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. Her manuscript, THE FALLS, has been named a finalist for the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize (University of Pittsburgh Press) and the Brittingham and Pollak Prizes (University of Wisconsin Press).
Barbara Peirson studied Fine Art at Colchester Art School. She lives in the tidal backwater of Essex in the UK. Painting mainly in acrylics, she is interested in figurative landscapes, estuary life, and still life. More of her work can be found on her Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/barbara.peirson/ or on her personal website, https://www.barbarapeirson.com/.