A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Clair Dunlap 

Dreams (in the Salish Sea)


the city shrugs its shoulders, says
all i've got is this river says that should
be enough: the polarity of
the big-mouthed mississippi,
the squat lakes sleeping naked on its outskirts
too small to even pretend with.

in bed, we keep the window unit on high
tangle up our sticky legs and wish we were anywhere
greener. i dream the turquoise water at deception pass,
the owl-eyes of our headlights in february dark. i dream
your face in the ferry’s grey wind for the first time, cormorants
ducking behind you.

the city says quit, says you aren’t going back for
a long time
, the city fries me clean through with july
to make sure i hear. 

when we are both turning over in our half-sleeps
you tell me about the garden we will have
in the san juans: pink fingers of foxglove, madrona bark
curled like cinnamon, bees all fat and hungry in the lavender.
the blue plates we will make ourselves,
the steaming paella on the dinner table, our
mouths yellow as egg yolk with saffron. 

the way we will get back and be good
with mugs in our hands each morning, 
fresh strawberries between our teeth. 


The host family I stayed with in Fès, Morocco, gave me a small bowl on my last night with them. I had been sick for the whole trip and, despite how much they encouraged me to eat, I could not keep up with all the desserts they pushed on me. The bowl fits in the palm of my hand and is painted with a simple yellow design. When my host sister handed it to me she said, laughing hysterically, "For your soup!" 

Clair Dunlap grew up just outside Seattle, Washington, where she started writing poems at the age of six. She currently resides in the Midwest and spends her free time missing the ocean, making vegan cheese, and drinking tea. Her work can be found, or is upcoming, in Whale Road Review, Vagabond City, Persephone's Daughters, Up the Staircase Quarterly, the Harpoon Review and more. Her first collection of poetry is forthcoming.