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~ in the fading summer sunlight, winter wheat shines golden ~

we’d like to thank our lovely contributors for sharing their words and voice with us.  The full issue is available below as well as under the drop-down ‘Literary Issues’ menu at the top of the page, as well as by clicking on the ‘Literary Issues‘ link. We’d also like to remind our readers and contributors that we’re currently accepting submissions for our Yule issue

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R + M = Love, by Lore Lippincott

While ‘R+M = Love’ might look like a strange algebraic equation, the R is for Robin, and the M is for Merlin.  That’s Robin Hood, and Merlin the magickal magician from Arthurian legend.  These two myths met eight hundred years ago under an ash tree in jolly old England.  Across the centuries, Robin has reached the conclusion that his madcap spouse Merlin is a bit zany for Lughnasadh, and even zanier during Lughnasadh.  Every year, Robin has to hunt Merlin down to stop him from ‘undoing the world’, or at least keep him from magicking parachutes to kittens (don’t ask).  What will Merlin do this year? He’ll send his beloved on a hunt around the city, to their favourite people and places, with an ending that celebrates their love for one another, the gratefulness they have for natural surroundings, and a marvellous respect for the beauty of the sun.

The appearance of apples, muffins and wine remind us to be thankful for grand mid-season harvests.  The subtle importance of the ash tree, under which Merlin and Robin tryst, demonstrates the wisdom that knowing the self is as important as knowing your lover.

Robin considered his lack of sleep over the last sennight a non-issue.  As a sentient being in the changeable world, he knew the calendric date and what a bearing it had on his sleep patterns.  He even understood how fantastic it was that five hours of rest should be his sometime between moonrise and morning.

That isn’t to say that he’d spurned his right to have a good Sunday morning lie-in.

But that wouldn’t be possible with Marian shaking him awake at the shoulder.  At least she wasn’t throwing one of the cats on him, a handy alarm clock with very sharp claws.

He peeled open an eye, already knowing Marian’s wild red hair and dove-grey irises would be waiting for him.

And, yes, there they were in all their annoying perpetuity.  The problem with being a myth, constantly resurrected and never wholly dead, was spending eternity with other infinite legends.  The flip side of that? Getting to spend an eternity with another infinite legend.

Too much wine last night had given him those throbbing pains at his temples.  He didn’t even try to get up, or act amused when Marian smiled a little.

“Nimuë and I didn’t travel thousands of miles just to watch you nurse a katzenjammer.”

Robin snorted, a combination of phlegm and annoyance at the jab.

Marian left a sympathetic pat at his bare shoulder before fiddling with the curtains.  Behind the glass, a fine view of the city, its display of structures and a backdrop of the Bay.  “You know what day it is, don’t you, Robin? It’s Lughnasadh.”

The blunt reminder brought the palm scraping sleep from Robin’s face.  Headache be damned, he had to get out of bed—but it was so, so comfortable.  He snivelled, now upright at the waist, a bit of cotton sheet keeping him modest in front of his guest.  “What’s he gone and done now? Or do I still have time to save the world?”

“I believe there’s still time.  You know how he gets when—well, there’s no need to say.”

(… read more)

Quests and Other Such Adventures, by Jean Kari

Learning about Lughnasadh, which I’m still trying to pronounce, felt akin to attending my family reunion and discovering that my new best friend is my second cousin twice removed.  Every year, my family attends the local county fair; it’s our tradition to enjoy the rides, the food, the games, and the exhibitions.  When I learned the relationship between the local county fair and Lughnasadh, I was thrilled.

‘Quests and Other Such Adventures’ captures some of that county fair dynamic in the context of a slightly fantastic festival.  Within the festival’s playful energy, the protagonist engages in two quests: one given to her and the other drawn from her over the weekend.  The story reproduces the fair’s energetic tension: the fair itself calls us from our homes while reminding us that the quest for home is the only real game in town.

Delia’s first step onto Fire Island threw her down a rabbit hole and shocked her into awareness.  The psychedelic seventies atmosphere of the island’s late summer festivities diametrically opposed the straightforward millennial, peaceful, seductive, because natural, energy of Suffolk County where she and her sisters lived.  Here, shirtless men danced and embraced openly; plain-faced farm girls flirted with tall, muscular, heavily painted divas.  Music raved, entrancing even the people-watchers.  And, Delia had just arrived, fresh off the ferry.  Two years ago, she would have called any poor girl arriving alone provincial while she herself turned to French kiss the nearest warm body, who, at that time, would have been her ex-fiance Tom.  But today that poor girl, Delia, had returned from afar.

By afar, Delia meant in consciousness, not in geography.  In this anonymous fb family world, Delia had been initiated into the Temple of Oye and had been living in time – intimately – with her sisters for two years.  They laughed together, fought each other, danced with each other, loved each other as women and sisters immersed in the wonders of their own co-creation.  Having made a hell of her real family and now knowing paradise, Delia had not wanted to pack, catch a ferry, and enter this tranced out wonderland, but she had no choice.

Every two years, the Temple sisters dispersed in all directions.  All twelve of them traveled to their real families, on dream vacations, to some place that might add to the Temple’s collective unconscious.  To be consciously intimate, for them, entailed periodic conscious separation, not uncoupling.  The truth is, Delia realized, I now need the Temple and my sisters’ companionship to feel complete.  I don’t even remember what I brought of my own – skills, gifts, joys, wisdom – to the community.  The sisters reminded her of the last place she’d been happy before them – Fire Island – and sent her there to play and remember.

The game, a quest, required that she retrieve five objects from five different people, representing the four elements and spirit in a weekend, starting that wild Saturday morning at midnight.  Each person would be available, Delia understood, at the designated time for the element.  Air would be available at sunrise; fire, noon; water, sunset; earth, midnight.  Spirit, she knew, could reveal itself at any time.

The retrieval method challenged how one established intimacy.  Through eye contact? Touch? A brief conversation? Sharing a bookstore table with strangers might lead to friendship or marriage or nothing at all.  “What makes the difference?” her sisters asked, “And what does intimacy look like?” If, at that bookstore table, one stranger clears everyone else’s trash for courtesy’s sake, has not intimacy been established momentarily even if no one says anything, but “Thank you!”

(… read more)

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