MQR 57:4 | Fall 2018

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Our Fall 2018 – Caregiving Issue is here! 

Featuring essays by Jeff Camhi, Maryah Converse, Desiree Cooper, J.D. Ho, Nancy McCabe, Carol Tell Morse, and Kim Wyatt.

Fiction by Chloë Boxer, Vicki Derderian, Karen Heuler, Kai Maristed, Gregory Leon Miller, Kate Osana Simonian, and Christa Romanosky.

Poetry by Ahmad Almallah, Idris Anderson, Elizabeth Aquino, Amy Beeder, Karen Brennan, Marc Brenman, Rafael Campo, Victoria Chang, Barbara Crooker, Chard de Niord, Suzanne Edison, Jeremy Gregersen, J. Estanislao Lopez, Margaret Gibson, Tom C. Hunley, Joshua Kryah, Heather Lanier, Amy Lemmon, Elisabeth Lewis Corley, Ed Madden, Michael Mark, Sara Parrott, Irma Pineda (translated by Wendy Call), Robin Rosen Chang, Tina Schumann, Betsy Sholl, Shirley Stephenson, and Connie Voisine.

Also featuring a foreword by Guest Editor Heather McHugh and cover art from Lori Racicot’s “Where the Hell Did My Memory Go?” series.

Purchase MQR 57:4 (Fall 2018) in print or as a downloadable PDF.


Jeff Camhi | “Words Unspoken”

I should have learned how to get past the jokes and speak openly with Jane about death. I’d had four learning opportunities, as the four people closest to me in my family already lay in their graves. My mother went first; then her mother, Gram; next my brother, Al; and finally, my father. Strangely, though, my involvement—or more correctly, lack of involvement—became more extreme, more bizarre, and more silent, from one to the next…

Maryah Converse | “Bringing Umm Saleh Home”

This hospitality is sacred, in Bedouin culture as in Islam. For Abu Saleh’s father and grandfather, to be alone in the desert was to be dead. It is not the act of a so-called Good Samaritan to give another person sustenance in the desert, but a fundamental act of humanity…

Desiree Cooper | “When Persephone Goes Away”

These days, at eighty-four, both parents have succumbed to memory issues, my mother following two of her three living siblings into the wilderness of Alzheimer’s. Once I moved in, I had to cull the house of the wild explosion of flowers to keep her from watering the furniture. Outside, I let things go to seed, winnowed the plots or mowed them over. I am no Snow White—there’s a limit to the souls I can tend with a smile and a song…

J.D. Ho | “We Will Return After These Messages”

I think of my grandmother whenever I delight over rotting corpses and the life cycle of maggots, when I research methods of picking locks, escaping from car trunks, or working myself loose when I am tied to a chair and someone is trying to pull my teeth out with pliers. I think of her when I see unmarked vans with suspicious drivers. I think of her in dark alleys, or when I read news stories of cat murders…

Nancy McCabe | “The Inmost Cave”

We gaze at a heap of petrified bat guano, like worms all curled together, or a blob of hamburger, or the creased surface of the brain. In the cool dark, we might have just stumbled upon a subterranean level of consciousness. We are like Magic School Bus characters touring the mysterious interior of the human body, the pathways of nerves and sinuses, arteries and intestines…

Carol Tell Morse | “There Must Be More to Life”

As we eat, we also attempt to feed our daughter. We scoop applesauce onto her spoon, and we tell her it’s time to eat. Sometimes she stalls: moves her head away, asks a question that’s sure to distract us, or just closes her eyes tight. She’ll sometimes cover her eyes with her hands and shake her head over and over…

Kim Wyatt | “Terroir”

Last fall, my mother had a massive stroke and was hospitalized. We’d barely finished making the house safe for her return when my dad’s heart went flabby, like a soggy clamshell that wouldn’t close. Even my dog was diagnosed with leukemia. With two parents down and out, I returned to my hometown to help with caregiving…


Chloë Boxer | “Dog Days”

The first time I heard of anything like it was in one of those clickbait articles we all learned so quickly to disregard: “This Woman’s Dog Saved Her Life, And You’ll Never Believe How.” I didn’t believe it. Apparently the dog kept barking at her stomach—barking and barking—until finally she went to see a doctor…

Vicki Derderian | “Tango”

When you froze like a statue. When you stared at a rack of birthday cards for two hours and then forgot to mail one to me. When you got lost in Walgreens and had to be rescued by my grade school bully. When you thought a camera was hidden in the Nguyens’ planter to spy on you. When you shattered the planter. When you hid twenties between the pages of Smithsonian. When you raked leaves in the rain for four hours straight…

Karen Heuler | “The Year of His Father”

Boyd’s father used to be a huge man, a man who had eaten and drunk steadily. He’d had a belly that lifted the hospital sheets up a foot or so, originally. When he was still able to eat. For a while Boyd tried to imagine the old stomach there, like a phantom limb, a ghost belly. He kept thinking it was like someone had come in and sliced it right off, all of it gone. Taken somewhere…

Kai Maristed | “Mrs. Trefoil’s Parlor”

Before Amber’s mother went into her silence, she had often demanded a pencil and pad: to make a show of writing “my last will and testament,” as she announced. The scraggly letters grew loopier and less legible with each new draft. The pages were handed to health aides, who squirreled them in the bed-table’s cabinet, along with the patient’s handbag and Medicare papers and mystery paperbacks…

Gregory Leon Miller | “Something Else”

I can still make soup, she said, I can still speak ill of people. We were at the table drinking tea. Last week she turned 90. The man with the leaf blower made his way across the neighbor’s yard. I could barely think. I had nothing to say in response so I said what came to mind and maybe it didn’t make sense but I doubted she could hear me anyway…

Kate Osana Simonian | “Transference”

Eve felt a tingle of panic. She busted into Nora’s froufrou boudoir. On the counter were glass perfume bottles, ivory-handled brushes, and ancient curlers. Nora was on the bed, surrounded by what Eve at first thought were glittering fish scales, and then, with a giddy plummet, realized were the shiny backings of her mother’s opiate patches…

Christa Romanosky | “The Hard Burn of Traveling Light”

They cut off my mother’s breast at 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, and from the lobby, we watch the low-res screen in the waiting room, color-coded for which stage of surgery she is currently in. “Still surgery,” my father says. But then it is over, and her breast, separated from the outer skin, the inner muscle, is sent to laboratories, where it will be cross-sectioned, examined, eventually discarded into a red bucket labeled hazardous waste with all of the other patients’ taken body parts…


Ahmad Almallah | “House/Cleaning”

Idris Anderson | “A Shuffle In the Woods”

Elizabeth Aquino | “Three Meditations on Caregiving”

Amy Beeder | “Leviathan”

Marc Brenman | “Family Archaeology”

Karen Brennan | “Everyone Sad” & “When Rachel Sings”

Rafael Campo | “Gastroenterology” & “Immunology”

Victoria Chang | “Obit”

Barbara Crooker | “Mirror” & “Linguistics”

Chard de Niord | “I Couldn’t Grieve” & “Like a Cicada”

Suzanne Edison | “When My Child Fell Ill”

Margaret Gibson | “Washing the Body”

Jeremy Gregersen | “Sistine Notebooks: The Delphic Sybil”

Tom C. Hunley | “Prayer Asking for Mercy”

Joshua Kryah | “Children of the Middle Ages” & “Survival by Children”

Heather Lanier | “The Baby Is”

Amy Lemmon | “Sea-Bands™”

Elisabeth Lewis Corley | “What Belongs to Us”

J. Estanislao Lopez | “Aubade on the 8th Floor of St. Luke’s” & “The Figurative”

Ed Madden | “What Time is Made Of,” “Never,” & “Imminent”

Michael Mark | “It’s all in your head, Estelle,” “The year we’re living in,” & “In the handicap stall”

Sara Parrott | “At the Pillow of the Sick”

Irma Pineda (translated by Wendy Call) | “Cándida”

Robin Rosen Chang | “Black Bubbles” & “Physical Exam”

Tina Schumann | “Interlude”

Betsy Sholl | “Knot”

Shirley Stephenson | “Hand Carriage”

Connie Voisine | “All is Well, Safely Rest, God Is Nigh”

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