Old Cork


by Kristin Turner


I didn’t know a feather from a fable 

          Nor a tether from a touch 


          Grey fumes evacuating throats 

Words lost in exhaled miasma 


Drifting in the background grief 

          The smell of days-old smoke 


          White tips hung out of ashy lips 

Skin cracked from kissing tobacco 


Holes in aged filter paper 

          Craters from brain to bronchi 


           Lighter-lit ache in a hospital gown 

Lingering, still lingering 


Alveoli refuse short puffs sucked in 

          They know breathing like I know leaving 


          This pink sponge lined with inky sap 

That yellow-speckled brown paper 


Awaiting pale black lungs, parched as cork 

          Air abandoned, tarred tissue dry 


          Do not tell me to be still 


Let my trach tube quake

Communal Air


by Kristin Turner


In the past, we would breathe together 

Us, we would occupy crowds and places 


And we wouldn’t notice our intermingled winds

Unless cold or smoke morphed it into a cloud of white 


Nor did we notice the droplets spread from throat to tongue

Floating into the music of our mouth as we spoke 


In the past, we would accidentally brush and bump

Us, we would mutter sorries to half-glanced faces 


And we wouldn’t miss the smell of lives separate from ours

Unless the blood of their bodies kept our winter train warm 


Nor did we think about reaching out to pass plate or pan

Forgetting that our fingertips carry our very breath 


In the past, we were all together, all alone 

Us, we are now all alone, all together 


And we won’t speak of communal air to share 

Unless we are without sight of mouth and touch of hand 


Nor can the soft of our palm hold the curve of a masked cheek

Fearing one contact will send sailing the winds in our lungs

Last Breaths


by Kristin Turner


The flickering of a lightbulb 

Looks of such effervescent lull 


A brazen glow as it dwindles 

Coming to a slow and sudden halt 


A cease? Or a rest? 


I imagine the darkness is something like 

Falling asleep to the sound of rain 


Loud drumming of each water drop 

Until a moment later—silence

Kristin Turner is a senior at Georgetown University studying Biology and minoring in Philosophy and Bioethics. As an aspiring healthcare provider, Kristin deeply values the synergy between the humanities and medicine. When Kristin is not studying or drafting new creative writing pieces, she proudly cheers for the Michigan Wolverines and welcomes time spent in sun and soil.

Instagram: @keturner9