instructions for around-the-world sailors:

by hazel byers

if you were to ask me how to wake before your alarm clock, or how to chop onions with your eyes closed (to prevent tears from falling), or how to reach that book your father left on the top shelf before he died,
i’d say to:

trust me, no matter what that boy said when you spoke to him through holes in the wall (his name is left to the unknown; the plaster caught most of his words and twisted them into electrical currents. they were sent to radio stations instead).

and then i’d tell you that my grandmother has been living her life with pieces of herself sewn into scratchy cushions and stitched into lemon pies and woven into tales taller than the tree she carefully, quietly removed from our backyard. i’d leave out the part where
she told me she had finished her last quilt.

then, i’d recall that
in our library, tucked behind the books that you’d never read,
lies a man

crows perch on the corners of his eyes and drag their beaks across his forehead, tracing the deep lines that cross his face
over, then over again.

here i’ll say: if you want the true answers
you must pry open his mouth and let the pebbles roll out.

he’ll tell you that he once met a woman who lived her whole life on a thirty-seven-foot sailboat. he’ll tell you she loved geology, but that her love was not enough,
for the rocks she clutched in her hands

and stuffed
in her pockets were not heavy enough to sink her ship—
she died afloat.

 

 

Hazel Byers is a 17 year old high school senior from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She writes poetry in her free time and plans to attend Reed College and major in Creative Writing next year.

 

Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor

Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine, EcoWatch.com, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by APweather.com, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at] gmail.com.