Issue #8 is here! We are very pleased with this issue, and we thank all of the amazing contributors that make this issue so special. You can download a PDF version using the link below, or view the issue through ISSUU. We hope you enjoy Dark Matter Issue #8
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We are proud to offer our Summer 2015 issue of Dark Matter Journal!
You can download a PDF version of this issue here.
You can read the issue online through ISSUU here.
We hope you enjoy this issue, and please pay attention to the forward: our own Robin Davidson is now Houston Poet Laureate!
We also have one of the best collections of stories, poems, and essays we've ever published!
Our next issue will be the Winter 2015/2016 issue. We will begin considering submissions for this issue in August.
Issue #6 of Dark Matter Journal is now available! We are pleased to offer this issue in PDF and through the online digital platform issuu. Please see below for links to the PDF and ISSUU versions.
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We are extending the deadline for submissions to Issue #6 of Dark Matter Journal to the end of January. To prime the pump, here is a poem which will appear in the issue. The full issue will now be published at the beginning of February. Until then, enjoy this poem from Mark Goodman
We are about six weeks away from publishing issue #5 of Dark Matter. To wet your appetite, please enjoy this story from Verity Sayles!
They didn’t ask for an apple tree, it just came with the house they bought thirty years ago. The branches still grow in crooked tangles, shading the front yard and quiet road, threatening the power lines. I thought nothing of age back when I climbed the knotted limbs and scratched my name in the bark, but apparently, most fruit trees only live until about 35. They tend to rot from the inside, grow black cankers on their branches, and the their leaves yellow and shrink. Last year, our neighbor, the arborist who gets stoned and removes stumps for a living, pulled his truck to the side of the road and hopped our stonewall to offer an unsolicited inspection. He patted the trunk, twisted a gloved finger in the knot, and tipped his head to survey the branches. “Eighty, maybe ninety years old,” he said.“ It’s pretty amazing. One of the oldest in town, I bet.”
We don’t prune or pick. The apples grow unreasonably high, and each September they drop with a force causing them to split open and leak sticky juice on the pavement, or turn soft in the long grass, or be smashed to a paste by passing cars. Our front yard is filled with the swampy, sweet smell of cider, of compost, of pulp. Lazy bees circle the fallen fruit, and ants tunnel through their splitting sides.
Years ago, my ever-hopeful father would engage in some pruning or spray the tree with organic pesticides. A hapless pseudo-farmer, he delighted in the meager handful of semi-edible apples harvested from the tree each fall. He whistled as he diced up the apples in the kitchen, removing the bug marks, the brown spots, cutting around the bruises to salvage a tablespoon of fruit. It would take the dissection of three or four apples to have enough unblemished fruit to top his granola. He declared it delicious. He showed us how to delicately pluck blackberries from the tangle of thorns by the woods. He planted blueberry bushes by the white fence, and when he picked the shriveled blue dimples he said they showed promise. He patted rich mulch around two new apricot saplings in the backyard, but they never grew fruit. The small trees withered and died the same year he did. We used to plant gardens, till the soil, and hold our breath watching the burgeoning crop. By summer’s end, the centerpieces of our dinners were a pitiful bowl of cherry tomatoes, or the one or two bitter and bumpy cucumbers survivors. He delighted in our nascent, bumbling way of living off the land. He would sweep his broad hand over the small heap of vegetables and champion them the fruits of our labor. When I think of him now, I picture his hands—broad and soft and pink, soil persistently packed in the grooves of his fingernails.
Now, the apples have started to drop again. Each morning my mother puts on her work gloves and gathers the fallen apples. She stoops low over the lawn and fills a large plastic bucket that she hauls across the road and dumps down a wooded hill. Several hours later, she returns to the yard, sighs at the fresh fallen crop, and does it again. I want her to see the pastoral charm of apples dotting the lawn, not to mention the futile nature of her work. But the tree is an invited nuisance in her life, a distraction by means of physical toil. Our property is filled these opportunities: fallen tree limbs must be dragged from the woods, stonewalls need rebuilding, the lawn needs mowing, and there is wood to stack before the winter. She hauls rocks from the garden and insists that the broken wheelbarrow is fine, and she too, is fine. On her sinewy and strong forearms, I’ll notice a bruise purpling against the thin, suntanned skin. I think of the phrase, “worked to the bone.” I tell her we can hire people to do the yard work, but I know that is not the point.
She went to visit her sister and somehow her list of instructions only consisted of two chores:
1.) Check mail
2.) Everyday: use work gloves, bucket and broom in basement, sweep leaves from the driveway and dispose of apples.
She has been gone for two weeks, the house feels even emptier than before, and I have yet to remove any apples. But this September, unlike any autumns before it, the apples are huge. For five years nobody has cared to spray the tree, or try to prune the intransigent branches. Perhaps it was the rain, or the cool summer. Whatever the reason, and despite my mother’s insistence the apples are only good for throwing away, I take a basket to the yard and turn over the smooth, flushed fruit. Often an apple is too small, split too deep, or chipmunks have already gnawed a quarter of the fruit to yellow. Many apples have bruises, small soft thumbprints where they hit the earth, but they can easily be eaten around and I gather a small, passable collection. Positioning my mouth to avoid a slight discoloration, I bite into the firm crispness of clean, white fruit and taste autumn.
This unexpected, plump goodness makes me uneasy . . . but I suppose I’ve been conditioned to think healthy is an imprecise appearance. Conditioned to worry this is a last ditch effort, a final shuddering breath. I fear I won’t know how much I loved this tree until it rots from the inside, grows unseen tumors, develops cankers on the branches and the leaves yellow and shrink. Searching for a warning, I cross from my basket to the tree, the low September sun streaks through the branches and dapples patterns on my skin. I press my hands to the cool, strong trunk, hoping to feel the insides and sense the core, but the knotted bark just flecks against my palms.
Verity Sayles is a freelance writer from Massachusetts who enjoys airplane food and the ocean in winter. She graduated from Trinity College (CT) in 2011 and is currently reading all the Pulitzer Prize Fiction winners and writing about them at pushandpulitzer.com
We are proud to announce the release of Issue #4 of Dark Matter Journal!
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