Fiction’s first with the Mississippi Review, as usual, and this issue begins with a story about fake implants called “A Miracle of Nature” – oh, the irony! Things go wrong, as things should in short stories, and the final line clinches it with “But back then she couldn’t say no; she couldn’t.” Ten more short stories follow, including Colin Bassett’s “This is so We Don’t Start Fighting” and Jennifer Pashley’s “How to Have an Affair in 1962,” which begins as all thusly titled stories should, with the directness of the line “we meet in public.”
March straight from prose to verse, and time slows down in Tina Barr’s sonnet, “The Guardians of Chocolate” with the lines, “Two red-haired girls, four brunettes, each / draw the shake up the straw so it melts / on their tongues.” Not every piece is as light, though. Elizabeth Harmon’s “The Dreams of Daughters” evolves the mood into a somber one, with the opening
I have had dreams where you are alive again
like you were never dead in the first place,
dreams where you are alive but I dream-know
that you will be dead again when I wake up.
Such a graceful treatment of grief is a marvel, and to be witnessed and hoped for in my own life, for it’s inevitable that grief will come. The narrative poem can admit to being sad like prose can’t, and the editors have chosen well to include this poem near the end, but not at the end, which still belongs to a levity-inducing “What She Found in the Meadow,” with the last mysterious lines left open:
There is a button,
friends tell her,
under the skirt.
If you can discover
it, push it,
for its stem.