Photograph by John Dulay

Margaret Ray

Transmission Received from Penelope in Deep Space

We’ve been [              ] long enough
for my hair to grow past my shoulders.

[           ] pushed off without thinking, of course
[           ] no choice.  Survival

at the cost of [                                     ]
[           ].  We’re a message in a bottle now, 

and it looks like the Sci-Fi channel promised
it would, only dirtier [               ] ship.  Everyone

[   ] top of each other.   The light is so thin, but
we  [                ] .  Outside [                ] bubble

of radio waves [          ] human voices
from our [                    ], so much silence. 

I know [                      ] gone, but my body is still
in love.  [                                 ] wander [        ].

The word day no longer means anything.
but I remember so much.  [                 ].

The sound of insects. [            ] pull
of the earth [     ] my body, like a magnet. 

Wind.  How I tried to keep even a soft rain
from wetting my skin. [                      ].


A skeletal umbrella that opens automatically
at the slightest touch. 
                                         My waiting, wrapped
around me. 
                      Flashlight shone
through a bat’s outstretched wing. 
                                            It’s hard to tell
from here.  That hospital smell, sickly-sweet
and biting. 
No, the fluorescent lights are all
broken in the mind. 
                     Haven’t you somewhere else
to be? 
             Look over there, something green
and blooming, this deep in November.

No, whatever tethers us to this world,
that’s                           where we worship. 

Bend to gravity,
kneel before these incubator wires. 

                Let me explain: I will stay,
propped up in a waiting room chair
until I realize I should offer to go let her dog out. 

                      He sulks by her bed, or
on top of the shoes.  I keep thinking I hear her,
calling me. 

How often do your ears invent your name?

When I finally clip his leash to his collar,
he hops with joy.  He has waited so long.

Along for the Ride

Sweet Fears  don’t worry
the windshield wipers work  see
those flakes in the air
don’t worry  they’re going
somewhere melted  melting
and our view will be clear 
Look at this exit before us
we don’t have to stay
on this grief highway forever
look turn just slightly
and we can pull over for snacks
don’t worry  my Worries
don’t worry  my Fears
just leave the windows
cracked while I run in  look
I’ll bring you your favorites
news and malaise and some
Cheez-Its for me  look
I won’t leave you for long
I know it’s the only way you know
how to love me  I know  I’ll just
be a minute  don’t watch
don’t look
I’m going  I’m gone

Margaret Ray

Margaret Ray grew up in Gainesville, Florida.  She is the author of Superstitions of the Mid-Atlantic (2021, selected by Jericho Brown for the 2020 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship Prize). A winner of the Third Coast Poetry Prize, and runner-up for both the James Hearst Poetry Prize (North American Review) and the december Poetry Prize, she has also been nominated for Best New Poets. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Threepenny Review, Narrative, The Gettysburg Review, Poet Lore, Gulf Coast, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.  She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and teaches in New Jersey.