By Diane Sammet
At the Core
What if the sun believed she couldn’t? That clouds were barriers. What if the sun believed she failed until all shadows burned— their ashes blown away? Would she keep on trying? How? No energy—no core. Cold and dark need new beliefs. The moon was born for this. He sees, reflects. She learns her truth. The galaxy expands.
The Landscape of the Unfinished Heart
The landscape of the unfinished heart, snowcapped, jagged, rough, slippery river rock, ice melt cold, racing to the sea, stops by trillium and bluebells. “Which way east?” she asks. The answer blows, spring blizzard. A frozen bitter scrapes. The landscape waits—snowed in. What else can she do, as the sound of distant surf, a million grains of hope, keep atoms warm within? The landscape of the unfinished heart gives herself to time. Edges rasp, erode, expose— ashes from the stars. Ice melts. She’s free to go. But now, her landscape’s level. Can’t rush toward the sea. Trillium and bluebells bloom, turquoise, topaz, quartz. Glacier made and clear. The landscape of the heart looks up. Connects to constellations. The ages kiss her veins.
It started with the picture hanging on the wall. Tilted. The nearby table too. Then the books, not one straight. The windowsill— a ramp for marble races. Nothing perfectly 90 degrees. Nothing right- angled. I screamed, “Fix it.” Then wondered why. Why is L perfection? What’s wrong with X and V? Are S and C and G somehow less than I? R U O K with this? Decision made. More lean or curve—than don’t. Perhaps it’s straight that needs adjustment. L is hard to hold onto—corners poke. I slope, balloon, and billow, envelop and enjoy tilted pictures, crooked tables, angled books, and marble races down my windowsill.
The chameleon wraps around the vampire. Unafraid, since her blood is not his type, she knows he will not drink, but if he does, he’ll spit it out. Won’t take another sip. The chameleon trusts her blood, but the vampire grows more desperate. Impulse for a pulse. He teases with his tongue. The chameleon wraps around the vampire. He fools her. Drinks her dry.
Fight or Flight or Freeze or
You can’t outrun attackers, not when small and tasty. You try to hide; it’s useless. You run. They run faster. You freeze. They only see you. You fight. Ha ha, they laugh. You have only one defense. Allow yourself to grow. Attackers cannot stop that, and they know it. Grow deep within—your brain (get smart), then grow a stronger heart. Won’t need big boobs, big balls, big bills. You’re bioluminescent. You don’t know it yet. Don’t stop there—keep growing, past vengeance, blame, and bite; past fear, and fair, and right. Keep growing—make a pearl. Luminescent layers, charity and grace asphyxiate the torment. Cultivate and polish your semiprecious gem. Design, adorn, remember to grow, to grow, to grow.
Diane Lee Sammet was the first-place winner of the Writers Helping Writers Fight Club Story contest (2022) and has been published in AppleSeeds Magazine, Loch Raven Review, and The Phoenix. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Diane holds two master’s degrees from Columbia University and the University of Hartford. You can learn more at dianeleesammet.com.