The “E-E-E-E-E-E”

The sound could be long and drawn out
like a hissing wind—
or short and staccato
like eruptions from the gut—
I don’t know how it started
among us four siblings
but I know how it grew.
It sounded like so many things—
fear, enthusiasm, excitement—
but what it really meant was danger.

We thought it kept us safe
but in the end
it prevented us from saying
what we wanted to tell each other.
I think we were afraid
we would speak truths
that we could not unsay
about our parents and ourselves,
and love would vanish like evaporation.
And so one of us would go,
e-e-e-e-e-e, and another
would pick it up and carry it
like a round to the next.

The themes and variations
kept us going for years.
It meant everything,
and it meant nothing—
our secret childhood language
unleashed of words—
an unbearable sorrow
without explanation.


“News of the World” © Stacy Esch


Poet, fiction writer, journalist, and critic Anne Whitehouse’s books include poetry collections The Surveyor’s Hand (Compton Press), Blessings and Curses (Poetic Matrix Press), One Sunday Morning (Finishing Line Press), The Refrain (Dos Madres Press), Bear in Mind (Finishing Line Press), and Fall Love (novel). Recentpoetry and fiction publications include The View from Here, Art from Art (anthology), Istanbul Poetry Review, Pain and Memory and Being Human: Call of the Wild (anthologies), riverbabble, Yale Journal of Humanities in Medicine, and others. She lives in New York City.

Stacy Esch lives and works in West Chester, Pennsylvania, teaching English at West Chester University. Digital art and photography are the twin passions that compete alongside her interest in writing, reading, songwriting, and gardening. She has previously published works in Ibbetson Street, Turkshead Review and wordriver literary review. She has produced cover art for chapbooks by Kenneth Pobo (Save My Place and Placemats) and her artwork is featured at Spruce Alley Press, where she published a colorful 2014 Calendar as well as distinctive illustrations for the chapbook, When The Light Turns Green.