Shannon K. Winston

Twyckenham Notes
Issue Fifteen
Spring 2022


My partner floats to calm her mind:
arms outstretched, eyes closed, 

this is how she soaks up time—

Beneath her, hundreds of pounds
of Epsom salt

and water and darkness. 

She loves the quiet grit of it,
the brackish rub against her skin. 

This is what I want for her—

so, I picture it, picture us 
wading through the centuries:

eyes closed, arms outstretched.

A distant sea licks our ankles. 
I gift her a broken sand dollar.

She pretends it’s whole,  

the way I pretend to believe her
when she tells me she rode a horse

into battle hundreds of years ago—

shadows flicker over her in the floating pool. 
She reaches out a hand to meet them.  


What light are you? my sister whispers from across 
the room. Red means I’m tired, yellow is sure, I’ll talk 

but only for a bit. Green is code for Oh, I could chat
for hours! Often, I am green, my sister is yellow.

And so, our nightly negotiations begin. 
We settle on a yellow-green, or a reddish-yellow glow.

Our conversations follow the traffic patterns:
my sister goes, then it’s my turn. We veer 

into speculation about who in our class likes Jason
or if Mr. Edwards ever brushes his teeth. 

I confess I’d lied about having my period 
to get out of gym class. My teachers eyed me 

suspiciously (isn’t she too young?), but never said a thing. 
I break my story to let my sister paraphrase 

a passage from The Shining she’d just read. 
We complain about our packed lunches: an almond wrap 

and sliced carrots wield no bargaining power in the lunchroom.
Through the venetian blinds, the streetlamps tentacle 

the floor. The late-night traffic washes over us 
in waves. Passing headlights wobble like jellyfish

across our white walls. Eyes closed, I dive 
off my island-bed into the blue, blue—. 

The Washing Machine

After Matthew Olzmann’s “My Invisible Horse and the Speed of Human Decency”
It’s water under the bridge,
they say, as if you can put 
the past on a small white sailboat 
and watch it drift by. 
Wouldn’t that be nice? 
But I don’t live near a bridge, 
don’t own a boat, and there’s 
a cavernous void in my ceiling 
after my upstairs washer 
gave up on Sunday morning
out of the blue. Or maybe not
so out of the blue, it was worn 
and tired and a piece gave way, 
which is a nice way of saying 
it broke. Some days, too, I feel 
broken, but I use the phrase 
under the weather. People don’t 
want to hear about things that break. 
They prefer reminiscing about 
the miniature sailboats gliding 
over the Conservatory Waters 
in Central Park on Saturday mornings.  
But the past is slushy, water-logged,
and dank. It churns, churns, 
and reverses course even on delicate
cycle. Yesterday, I texted my father,
an architect, on his birthday
with a picture of the exposed beams. 
One of our annual check ins. 
He texted back: I’m sorry, I wish 
I could have been there to fix it.  

SHANNON K. WINSTON‘s book, The Girl Who Talked to Paintings (Glass Lyre Press), was published in 2021. Her individual poems have appeared in RHINO Poetry, West Trestle Review, The Shore, and elsewhere.  She holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. She recently moved to Bloomington, IN. Find her here:

Cover image by Linds Sanders.
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