The newest issue of Hayden’s Ferry Review melts in the hands. Perhaps this is due to its comfortable size—large, a bit overweight—or the season in which it is published. In reality though, the fiction, poetry, and photography inside enacts the melting. In fiction, “Meet Me on the Moon” by Robert Warwick brings summer and its thematic counterpart growing up to the forefront with effortless prose:
They killed things that summer, mostly frogs, using Ben’s bow and arrow at very close range. JH tried to get the Meyers’ dog to eat rat poison off the palm of his hands, but Spike ran off, stooping at a distance to look back at them sharply, wanting to be chased.
“I hate that stupid dog,” JH said, kicking dirt and tossing the poison, wiping his hands carelessly on his pants.
JH hated everything. He hated his mother and said he wished she was the dead one and not Mrs. Kyle, who was—had been—younger and prettier… Sometimes he said he hated Ben, although Ben never really believed him because he always came back, regardless of what mean things he might have said the day before. No matter what, he always came back. It was what they both knew and never talked about. There was nowhere else to go.
Ben spends every day with his friend JH in a neighborhood freshly rocked by the death of a young wife. While the heart of the story is a classic coming-of-age tale, the ending takes this staple a step further, pulling the characters into tragic adulthood.
In poetry, Shayok Chowdhury weighs stillness, the last careful word in his careful poem “Biodiversity”:
The moon is full:
I search for the curvature at the edges of its light—
something to show me it is sphere
and no more mystery than what’s nearer:
this wordless man;
bloodrice in the palm of my hand.
The word choice here is so simple and forgiving, conveying the insecurity of the narrator with precision and skill.
In a special section, Short Forms, many fines pieces play with the thrift of words and the expansion of small ideas: “Guts” by Darryl Joel Berger; “The Politics of Metamorphosis” by Katie Farris; “Still Life” by Emma Hine; and “Knuckles” by Erika Eckart to name a few. If you only read one piece from this issue, be sure to read one from this impressive special section.
And, finally, in photography, Robert Ballen sparks the imagination, pairing figures with wires, strings, and branches. Ballen’s four photographs, tucked near the end of the issue, draw the eye, hold it, feed into the mind in ever-widening bursts.