Nadia Arioli

On “In the Third Sleep” by Kay Sage

There are three sleeps that pull
us furthest through time. The first
is after passing meconium. Did
we think we were going back
to warmth and wet? We wake up
under bright lights and swaddles.
We raise our tiny fists to god.

We shared our second sleep,
although we did not know it at the time.
You took me to lunch in a small
restaurant and asked what if this
were our house. I said I'd put
the living room by the entrance
with space for dancing and my bed
behind double doors. You said
you'd sleep in the fountain
to save time by eliminating bathing.

Ashile, when you got home you called me
and asked when are we going to lunch.
My head was thick a nap and too much wine.
I cannot remember what I replied.
I hope it was as gentle as water.

You were a few days into the third sleep,
Kurt, when I knew. You skated 
over ice in your coat, 
my husband’s rifle like the mast of a ship. 
You pushed off for the land of nod,
set sail in one red smear.

Now I move in smaller circles,
frozen in telephone wires.
I shuttle back and forth between
sleeps. First, second, third, over
and back again. All three sleeps
have little mouths,
I caress them when I can.

On “Festa” by Kay Sage

We are ninety percent water, but
we carry different things than the ocean.

I had only a handbag. My shape
did not stay in its container but

went to blown out skirt,
smear flower floating

while well-meaning onlookers
peered up inside.

When I was a child,  I thought
the ocean could carry sound,

that you could shout I love you
to someone across the Atlantic, and if

you did it just right, they would hear.
It was only a matter of timing and patience.

But waves don't work like that,
the kind in oceans carry ships,

and I am no ship, am 
passengerless. I drove myself,

party of one. Landlubbers, we have 
driftwood on our mantle piece and another

on the dresser. I do not love them;
they were just things that came with

deceased estate. Old, gnarled 
like guts. It wasn't my stomach

that hurt but down below. Two
weeks late and then—

Water bears murk and scale.
Swimmy things, learning how to be soup.

They hooked me up. Two
IV bags that made me cold. Other

sicknesses brought me stew, or
when I couldn't eat, a handful of olives.

I liked eating around the pits. Water
carries messages in bottles,

quiet pleas for assistance. I had
hoped I would find one, someday.

The nurses had no news, not really.
Follow up, even if you're feeling better.

It wasn't the sort of thing they could test for.
And then I drove myself home,

eyes bald and wide like a gun. Ninety percent
water, and I couldn't carry a tune.

ON “Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool” by Kay Sage

You find the end of the world
in a box of cigarettes, the yellow
tips lined up like soldiers.
You remember to turn a lucky.

At an art gallery, you
stand in an alley to smoke, 
where the graffiti is vines going to guns.
A couple leaves, their arms around each other's waists,
towards the light at the other end.

A woman in a vest with dogs on it
takes out a plastic bag labeled Biohazard
and drinks something in vials.

You see it in flashes, like neon
panties through dress pants,
like something caught in teeth.
You see it in obstetrics waiting rooms,
behind a neglected fish-tank.

The end of the world refuses to use coasters.
When it sets its coffee down,
it leaves a ring of iron. Ring of wool
is how your mouth feels when
you speak its name.

You know no one will miss fish,
beasts, and birds,
when the end strikes by getting
in cracks and phone wires.
When all life goes to rubble,
who would mourn it?

What does it mean that the end
has a smaller, unplanned twin?
A boat mid-abortion.
You have seen it
between wafts of city-piss smell.
It's in the back. Does the
stillness make it impending 
or the other way around?

Nadia Arioli (nee Wolnisty) is the co-founder and editor in chief of
Thimble Literary Magazine. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming
in Spry, SWWIM, Apogee, Penn Review, McNeese Review, Kissing Dynamite,
Bateau, Heavy Feather Review, Whale Road Review, Poetry South, and
others. They have chapbooks from Cringe-Worthy Poetry Collective,
Dancing Girl Press, Spartan, and a full-length from Luchador.

Flights. Issue Two, September 2021