Tag Archives: Sara Henning

Issue 3.3 April 2014 (Fiction)

Fiction Only Issue

Click on a title to read an author’s work(s) and bio. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page and on Twitter using #BlueLyra. Also, consider leaving a comment for everyone to read.

"Adieu" art by Erin Cone
“Adieu” Art by Erin Cone

"Desiderata" art by Erin Cone
“Desiderata” Art by Erin Cone

"Etiquette" art by Erin Cone
“Etiquette” art by Erin Cone

Brett Beach | Brother
James Chaarani | White
Bernard Grant | The Child
Brandon French | Dolores Our Lady of Sorrows
Sara Henning | A New Year
Hall Jameson | Strategy
Nicole Nelson | Passengers
Shaun Turner | Dissolution of Care

Sara Henning

Sara HenningSara Henning is author of a full-length collection of poetry, A Sweeter Water (2013), and a chapbook, To Speak of Dahlias (2012).  Her poetry, fiction, interviews, and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming from Willow Springs, Bombay Gin and the Crab Orchard Review.  Currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, she serves as Managing Editor for The South Dakota Review.


A New Year

New Year’s Eve and I’m at a Steak N’ Shake twelve miles from Graceland.

This side of Memphis is haunted by strip malls, women ready to cat fight for a plum parking spot. This side of Memphis, it’s smart to lock your doors against the men shape-shifting, cruising for something easy. They’re sometimes boys, sometimes ghosts, sometimes here already, ready to slip right into you.  

The most I know of Memphis is a friend’s mister before she dumped him, tight jeans, six-string, empty cans of Keystone like a halo around him when he’d play through the night.  Always the same man over and over. She had a thing for being able to picture the next move. That way you can fall into everything, she’d tell me. That way you know how far you’re going to fall.

She didn’t have to tell me: when stereotypes become real, that’s when to run.

At the Steak N’ Shake I’m waiting for a storm to pass. Mississippi to Memphis, torrent to torrent. I’d forgotten how a southern wind can bite harder than a dry cold—the kind wet enough to reach past my coat and clutch my hips, softest part of the sacral ledge. The place where a woman bends and is liable to break. Because I’m far from home, chewing through my straw, because I’m hours from a new year crowning in its lunar canal, I watch the thick wasted blonde a few booths down, her jeans 80’s shredded up to the crotch. She’s ignoring her fries, her man is biting into his burger over and over. I wonder if they are on a date. I wonder if they are drunk. I wonder if this is the first booth they’ve sidled in next to each other, or if they just have nowhere else to go.

Once I lived on a road where women sold their bodies for a fix. There was this one named Tammy—acid washed capris, peek-a-boo stilettos, her toes painted crimson. I was friendly with her in the way a girl needs to be in order to survive, to be open but not so open that what’s breaking inside of her has a chance to slip through her blouse. Open but not so open that the parts of her cossetted and stained by winter don’t surge out like some epileptic miracle.

When I was twenty-four, I drove from Virginia to Georgia through the night without stopping. Two interstates, Atlanta’s Spaghetti Junction.  Every twenty minutes, a voicemail.

He’d say, I’ve smashed everything you left with a hammer. He’d say, I’ve burned all of your clothes. Over and over.

New Year’s Eve, Steak N’ Shake, how the TV station will switch from the baby dropping in Jackson Square to the peach dropping in Atlanta at midnight, always something dropping. Always a sacrifice in order to start over.  And if I stay long enough, I can watch the couple slip past me and out of the door. I can watch them drive off into the night.

And what can I say, I’m always running.

I’m wondering if they’ll park somewhere, go home together, what they’ll mean to each other by morning. 

Sara Henning

sara henning picSara Henning’s poetry, fiction, interviews and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Bombay Gin, Willow Springs, and Crab Orchard Review. Currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, she serves as Managing Editor for The South Dakota Review.



Cutting It Down

My mother, the apple tree, her house in Des Plaines.

My mother, turning pages with juice-stained fingers, entire afternoons of books and wind. Sparrows’ toes tempting her to become part tree, part girl.

Then Dean Martin gushing through the living room windows. Then time to hide the children.

Memories are made of this, her father’s voice joining the lilt. Sixth Martini. You’re nobody ‘til somebody loves you.

Her body dropping reckless from branches, plucking toys from her sibling’s hands. Sister on her hip, palm hard against her brother’s back. Up the stairs, shoes shorn for soft stepping, into closets. Cotton and leather to swathe the body. Silk for the face.

Always a different location. A game of memory.

Bedroom, crawlspace, bathroom cabinet. Wherever their bodies, contorted into shapes of fear and corduroy, could slink. Linen or bivouac. Whichever safety would hold them.

Breathe lightly, she’d tell them. Gather your breath into a small orb of light and hold it in your chest.

Stockings stained with cinder, upstairs fireplace. Children still as lamps, children behind curtains.

Hold it there. Like they’d entered a game of waiting.

Try not to let go.

Needle grafting the record’s face, the return to song. Her father’s voice, her mother’s voice.

Leave them alone, like her mother would say on Saturdays in autumn, when he’d spend mornings raking, then burning leaves. When he’d return to the pile from a break with the paper to find the gold and burnish ravaged, stains of laughing and jumping, a trail of things dead and glowing.

Her youngest running to show her the rake-shaped marks on her legs.

Leave them. The bodies, tucked away. The bodies unheeded.

Leave them. First, soles of leather shoes slapping wood. Then restlessness, small things curling away from their latitude, their longitude. The ripping apart of drawers, waspish oblivion. Kicked cat, kicked dog. How his body looks when it touches the bed. How his body, in blackout, is still reaching.

Gather the children like apples, turn them over in her hands.

When she returns from school and the apple tree is gone. Hollow, he’ll tell her, spectacular with rot. The next storm would fill it with a rage of water. The house would lurch when it split the roof. Have mercy, he’ll tell her, on a thing that will fall.

The tree, not the fruit now bitten.

The book, not the hands that clutch it.

The wind, toes of sparrows, not the leaves that hang, not the rain still clinging.

Never the apples, brutal.

Never the storm.