Cora Lu Welton 2016

Story:      Fireflies

Poem:     Father's Day

Poem:     Dream Catalogue

Story:      Empty Affection

Poem:     Uno Ab Alto

Story:      Domestic Breakfast Scene

Poem:     Ode to a Modern Day Princess

After "Originally"

Girls with Dragons and Teenage Blues


     Hand in hand, we sit on the cooling hood of my car. The full moon illuminates the freckles on his tanned knuckles. A warm breeze blows, soft at first, but stronger as the night goes on. The sky is scattered with a few pinpoints of bright light, the Milky Way barely visible through thin clouds. In front of us, across the gravel, lies a field of stars. Watching fireflies twinkle, I wonder if this must be the place all shooting stars land. In his cupped hand, he catches a stray one and lets its blinking light shine through his fingers.

     Summer is at its peak: grass that has waited so long to grow green has been scorched yellow by the heat. In China, long ago, it was believed that fireflies were a product of burning grasses. The breeze makes the grass ripple in glittering waves. I imagine this field burning to the ground, fireflies rising from the ashes. Destruction breeds creation. Without destruction, is creation possible?  Can any good come without bad? Maybe that is what makes us human; we must first suffer, destroy, be destroyed on the path to good.

     We take turns throwing promises in the air, hoping the breeze will catch them and return them to us, fulfilled. My hands begin to shake, so I sit on them with nothing more to say. Looking out at the field of stars, we sit with beauty in our eyes and unease in our hearts. Thoughts of the future leak into the corners of my brain. I take his hand again and squeeze it to make sure he is still there. I imagine us burning the bridge that leads to each other. I try to imagine us returning to the ashes to build another.




Father’s Day


My dad makes pancakes.

When I was younger,

they were blackened, tough

on the outside, yet

still had raw centers.

Now they are better.

He slides the smallest

on my plate as eggs

sizzle in bacon

fat. The grease splatters

from pan to counter;

My mom will be mad.

I burst the yolk with

the tines of my fork,

sopping it up with

my rolled up pancake.

Never comfortable

sitting, he stands and

rubs his nose, ripping

a chewy bite from

his bacon. Our house

will smell like this all

day. We eat breakfast               

in silence, never

much to say. I pour

him a glass of orange

juice: a thank you. I

rinse our plates, load them

in the dishwasher,

and retreat upstairs.

He sits at his piles

of paperwork. He

smells like diesel fuel

and pancake batter.

I watch him. He looks

up at me and smiles.

Dream Catalogue


I watch a Tyrannosaurus Rex

eat my mailbox

while sitting amongst flowers.


One night, my closet doors

morph into wolves that swirl

and howl at my pale moon face.


A man-sized grasshopper

clicks at me from the hallway.

He chases me silently

to my parents’ room,

where my mom seizes me with giant pinchers.


A man dressed in black

hovers behind me,

his hot breath on my neck.

If I move, he will kill me,

so we wait.


Sometimes, I am pregnant.


Once, I lived in a gray house

in a gray world.

A gray gun in my hands

and a gray thought in my head

led me to shoot my family,

one by one,

until I jumped off the gray balcony.

Once, gray fog moved in

and it happened again.

Once, I jumped seven times.


Empty Affection


     I dream of the day I will wake up, someone’s whiskey breath on my lips, and call you with nothing to say. This is the same day that I will forget what your hands feel like on my skin, how you smell, and the texture of your hair in-between my fingers—all of the things that cannot travel through these invisible telephone wires to where I sit in the emptiness of what I have done and not said.


     I dream of the day I will see you again, like returning home after a long time away and everything feels different, but all that has changed is how my hands fumble to hold yours when you reach out to me. I am trying to remember that this is all just a dream - but how can it be? All I feel is the falter in my smile when you say, “I love you.”

     I dream of the day you will stop loving my missteps, where I keep falling short. Silence has always tasted better than the wrong words, so my speech is flavorless. You provide me with names to call myself. Born out of your bitterness, they scald like boiling water and I drown in the bathtub you filled and presented for me.

     I dream of the day you will find our quiet to be uncomfortable. The truth is, my unspoken words have rotted under my tongue and I dare not speak, releasing the halitosis - a mixture of dead script and infidelity. My lies exist within the gaps in my teeth, the spaces between our intertwined fingers, and I awaken - my hand on your beating heart.





Uno Ab Alto


He enlisted for eight years.

When my brother made the announcement,

Papa gripped his Airman’s coin

tucked in his pocket and turned off his hearing aid.


I remember my cousin

spending months in training,

only to run a fax machine for two tours

in the hot desert of Iraq.


At night, I dream of my brother

in creased navy edges, saying goodbyes.

I see him come home,

a triangle folded flag.





Domestic Breakfast Scene


     A hand-wound alarm clock buzzes, startling the couple from their deep sleep. He lets his bare feet dangle off the side of the bed before standing dizzily; she whacks the clock and lets out a yawn. He coughs and it rattles his chest. The mornings seem to come earlier every day.

     The old red tea kettle whistles; the steam silhouettes in front of the curtains by the rising sun. A checkered tablecloth covers the table set for two. A vase with a single white daisy, slightly withered, rests in the center beside the pill bottles. An empty frying pan waits on the stove. Outside, the rooster crows as calloused hands cradle three eggs, still warm from their place in the nest.

     Wheat toast pops up from the shiny toaster as eggs crackle and then quiet as they are slid onto clean plates. One spot has a cup of Earl Grey tea, no sugar, and the other, a glass of orange juice. He coughs, wiping his mouth after doing so and she pretends not to notice; it’s been getting worse lately. Reaching across the table, hands join in silent prayer.

     After the table has been cleared and dishes hand washed, they sit on the porch swing. It squeaks gently as they sway, hand-in-hand. The horizon bleeds orange over the fields. Covered by the same quilt, they watch the sun rise together for the last time.




Ode to a Modern Day Princess


With her ombré grey hair

flowing in the wind, she parks her

eco-friendly Volkswagen Beetle

and struts into the Whole Foods.

“Do you have any non-fat vegan

organic coffee creamer?”


In the produce aisle, a self-proclaimed

“sensitive” lumberjack frat boy

tears his gaze from the eggplant

to stare at the crop-topped maiden

gliding past the yams.

Before she can escape his sights,

he yells, “Yo – Netflix and Chill?”

His straightforwardness sends shivers

all the way down to her size 6 Nike Roshes.

They head back to his parents’ basement

to binge the new season of Orange is the New Black.


Later, she smacks her gum,

tip-toeing around empty Dorito bags

on the floor. When he asks if he can

see her again, she shakes her feminist head,

worried about being late to her evening yoga class.

“This is, like, my ride,” she says,

and Ubers off into the sunset.