1941 (But what of the rain?)

Was it cold?

Of course it was—

March in Sussex,

after all.

Did you see the


as it approached?

I know you did.

And did you hear the



hellfire exploding above you

in the darkened basement?

But what of the rain?

It drenched you—

soaked through your

coat, flattened

hair against


Were the stones


as you strode in—

silt at weak ankles,

water above buckling


They felt cold, too,

I’m sure—

ice, ice, ice in your


But what of the rain?

Did it weigh you down,

drag you down into the

dregs of the River?

Was it warm?


Standing in the same meadow

as all those times before,

transient and not quite

rooted in place,

I look down and

consider a familiar sight—

Toes and soles,

callused by these 30 years,

cold and pressed down into

the strange warmth of this grass,

their comfortable friend.

Dirtied and

sometimes bruised,

even bloodied and scarred,

held and kissed by lovers,

caressed and healed.

New beings, faces,

new iterations of self,

appear across the old field,

embedded in that fresh grass,

busying themselves anew,

nearly identical but

never quite the same,

not really.

These mirror-imaged brothers,

those who have walked

through towns and across campuses,

to bus stops and corner stores,

who have carried me

across bridges and borders.

Long and sturdy,

permanently altered by those

shoes too small,

they step toward strange worlds.

Those old filaments

ever connecting those lives

to past selves,

invisible and buried below,

here under this earth.

John C. Polles is an editor from Northeast Ohio whose creative work has appeared in Rubbertop ReviewKissing DynamiteQueerlingsNightingale & Sparrow, and more. A graduate of Kent State University at Stark, he previously served as Editor-in-Chief of Canto: A Magazine for Literature & Art. John currently works in marketing, and you can follow him on Instagram @jcp_writes.