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Volume 14 • Number 1 • Spring-Summer 2022

Melanie Alberts

Psychometrist v. Arrowhead

Thursday’s circle fills the folding seats: usual lumpy ladies, a granddaughter in braids, my mate Bertie, and me, leading as I do in the power of prayer. The girl’s perhaps ten, a fidgeting doubter, sighing with snide impatience. 

“Now then,” I pass my cap to Bertie, “We’ll begin with a demonstration of psychometry, the art of reading the aura of an object. Bertie will blindfold me, then pass the hat into which each of you may deposit one personal item. As I encase an item in my palm, I shall express my impressions, without knowledge of the item’s history or owner.” 

A moment passes. Blindfold in place, I reach for the first bauble. A ring, or perhaps a brooch? One was pinned at Dolores’ throat this evening. 

In my palm lies the heft of cool stone, full at one end like a pendulum. Images populate my awareness. A coarse wall, off-white and ochre stained. Dead-winter chill, a brown bear rolls on its side, a glossy sac slides out, it licks the writhing pink. 

The scene repeats but now a screaming girl pushes against stone with flat hands, squatting over her mother’s own, the baby whisked to the cave’s mouth, water dripping from the walls soothes the girl’s forehead, drained of blood. Bats whip through, shards of stone fly as they lift off, return smelling of brambles— The sound of Bertie’s throat clears as if from under a dozen quilts.


               nauseous ocean

                     oily indifference

                          stronger bones 

                               have splintered

                                    because of me

Hillary's Pockets

Slippery as unbeaten egg whites the cloth rolls off her shoulders: camel hair, silk lined paisley, sunken buttonholed breasts. The coat checker evaluates its heft, places it on a hanger, hands out a number, smoothes the scarf down a sleeve. Frost lingers about the shoulders as if the owner only just emerged from an unsympathetic landscape. The coat checker checks in more coats.

Finally, from a distant place, music starts, applause crashes out of its box and the checker steps back to the rack, taps its tarnished pedal with her foot.

Sleeves swing outward…249…253…262…even and odd, Chanel No. 5, Opium, Unforgivable. She grasps the camel hair’s collar. In go her arms, hands tucking into the oversized pockets—left side empty, no lipstick, no tissues but in the right, she feels something half eaten, half wrapped in a thin foil, the contents crumbling like whispers swept up by a tired busboy. With fingers to her lips, she smells oats, tastes chocolate and soon the entire treat is in her mouth, tongue dislodging the sticky bits. Somewhere else applause trots about, the cloak room glows fluorescently as


             those elegant nooses

                  slide closer to the floor

Writer and psychic artist Melanie Alberts works at the University of Texas at Austin. Her non-fiction, poetry, and haiga have appeared in the Cold Moon Journal, Failed Haiku, Texas Poetry Assignment, Ransom Center Magazine, Just This, The Austin Chronicle, Borderlands, bottle rockets, Wisteria, and forthcoming in Drifting Sands—A Journal of Haibun and Tanka Prose. Follow Melanie on Instagram