by Amy Lemmon

The East River looks frozen, choked

eddies pulling in oppositions.

Cumulocirrus skies leak blue in spots.

 

You are not waiting at home

as you were so long, long ago,

solid point ’round which my currents churned.

 

Picking my way through stepped-on

frozen slush, I push my heart rate,

building stamina for the long haul.

 

How many more miles without you

or any other You? Families pass

on the promenade. The men

 

have all married younger wives.

The women are plush and beautiful,

their lips open delicately when kissed.

 

I have not forgotten how I had

to teach you softness, the relaxed tongue,

the release that made you squirm.

 

Spring is so late this year

we may never thaw again. Hard

to believe, harder to bend not break.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Amy Lemmon is the author of three poetry collections—Fine Motor (Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Press, 2008), Saint Nobody (Red Hen Press, 2009), and The Miracles (C&R Press, 2019)—and co-author, with Denise Duhamel, of the chapbooks ABBA: The Poems (Coconut Books, 2010) and Enjoy Hot or Iced: Poems in Conversation and a Conversation (Slapering Hol Press, 2011). Her poems and essays have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Rolling Stone, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, Verse, Court Green, The Journal, Marginalia, and many other magazines and anthologies. Amy is Professor and Chairperson of English and Communication Studies at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, and co-editor (with Sarah Freligh) of The CDC Poetry Project.

by Tina Mozelle Braziel

never fruits. Yet each March blossoms burst

along every branch raised over our neighbors’

bed of daffodils and glinting windmill art.

 

Its pale petals screen dark limbs, a bridal veil

drawing attention to what’s obscured.

Alive and flowering, it’s unlike the windthrows

 

or widow-makers Nick usually offers us to cut

and haul to our woodpile. Generous to a fault,

he grins as if we’re doing him the favor.

 

He says it has been pretty and still is. Tells us 

they planted it on their wedding day. But now

that Judy says it’s invasive, it has to go.

 

Married four years to their twenty, what do we know

of when to hew and root out a beginning, 

of how to save all that has been cultivated since?

 

We know oak burns steady. Dogwood catches quick.

Sweetgum is nearly impossible to split. Poplar

puts out too little heat. And flowering pear?

 

What else can we say? But that we need fire

and wood to feed it. We’ll haul it home,

fill our stove, learn something of how it burns. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tina Mozelle Braziel, author of Known by Salt (Anhinga Press) and Rooted by Thirst (Porkbelly Press), has been awarded the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, an Alabama State Council on the Arts fellowship, and an artist residency at Hot Springs National Park. She directs the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop at UAB. She and her husband, novelist James Braziel, live and write in a glass cabin that they are building by hand on Hydrangea Ridge.

by Gail Goepfert

—I paint flowers so they will not die. 

Frida Kahlo

 

We are watchers, Frida—

aching but obedient to light,

 

resurrected by shocks of color.

Mornings you pluck

 

bougainvillea or pearly

gardenias, plait them in your hair

 

above your brow. I shadow

the fire of spring poppies

 

and the profusion of lilacs

and pink hydrangea.

 

With the organ pipe cactus,

you spike a sage-green fence

 

on the borders of La Casa Azul

tuned to the rhythms of sun

 

and rain—its lavender-white

flowers tint while you sleep.

 

Our love-eyes like greedy

tongues lick the rare-red

 

of wild angel trumpets.

We are aficionados. Pregnant

 

with joy in the garden’s cosmos.

We pursue hues like lovers’

 

lips, stalk columns of yellow

calla-lilies, praise the allure

 

of honey-petalled sunflowers

and the lobes of violet irises.

 

We thrive on iridescence—

our eyes attuned to its blessing.

 

Watchers. We bend near

in reverence to the bloom—

 

all pain humbled, stilled

for a time by beauty.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Gail Goepfert, an associate editor at RHINO Poetry, is a Midwest poet, photographer, and teacher. She is the author of A Mind on Pain (2015), Tapping Roots (2018), and Get Up Said the World (Červená Barva, 2019). Recent or forthcoming publications include Kudzu House, Stone Boat, Postcard, Poems and Prose Magazine, Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, and Beloit Poetry Journal. See more at gailgoepfert.com.

by Paula Bohince

My birthright
to rival the dirt for primacy 
of earth (this inner 
outer space) stars 
of mica, tinselly give-offs 
to read by. 

I aspire, my spine 
spiraling out of skull and piercing 
sky, like a queen, 

and me, her foot- 
note, her shamed history.  

I ponder Brahms 
and Bauhaus. I have thoughts, 
spectacular or quiet 
depending on rainfall. 

No honey down here, but I 
lust, I grudge, 

I apprenticed myself 
to a darkness and sent up 
cardinal redness while I sinned 
in my brain, 

demonic or dull, 
either way lost to the aerial 
photograph, as my mind 
mapled air,  

my frayed and dendritic 
nerves, my lyrical 
impulses, separate as a corsage is 
from the wrist of the one 
who wears it.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Paula Bohince is the author of three collections, all from Sarabande: Swallows and Waves (2016), The Children (2012), and Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods(2008).  Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, and Best American Poetry.  She has been an NEA Fellow, Dartmouth Poet in Residence at The Frost Place, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholar, and Amy Clampitt House Resident.  She lives in Pennsylvania, where she grew up.

by Lauren Milici

I bleed for the first time in two years. I tell everyone. Someone close to me says,  wow, it’s like
you’re a real woman again.
Amenorrhea means  no children, or  children if you’re lucky. The
Latin translates to  no moon. I am a moonless woman. The Pollock painting does not depict me.
Often, I think of the infertile wife & the husband who leaves her. How nobody wants to admit
they’ve been left. But I’m a real woman now. Someone will keep me. Someone will look past the
other things. The insomnia. The compulsion to pick holes in freshly healed skin. I can cook, too.
I can clean. I can read to kids at night, even if they aren’t mine.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lauren Milici is a Florida native who writes poetry, teaches English, and is currently getting her MFA in Creative Writing somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia. When she isn’t crafting sad poems about sex, she’s either writing or shouting into the void about film, TV, and all things pop culture. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @motelsiren.

by Diane K. Martin

The night is almost too quiet.

His snore is the exhaust of a semi

roaring down the two-lane. The dog

 

at her water bowl is a summer lake

lapping the silt beach. And the woman

—big glasses, denim jeans, hair

 

pulled back with a scarf—holds

a yellow pencil in her teeth.

The woman is the poem.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Diane K. Martin has published work in SWWIM Every Day, American Poetry Review, Field, Kenyon Review, Tin House, Plume, and many other print and online journals. Her poems have been included in Best New Poets and have received a Pushcart Special Mention. Her first collection, Conjugated Visits, a National Poetry Series finalist, was published in 2010 by Dream Horse Press. Her second book, Hue & Cry, is forthcoming from MadHat Press in September, 2019.

by Kristina Bicher

a prison spoon, sharp teeth, a rosary

and chicken feet, a compass rose, magnetic blood

TNT, equanimity, and a diamond file for a finger;

jeweler’s glass, rubber suit, passport stamp

kick in the ass, the right shoes, the North Star

a shiv and an ampule of musk; sulfuric acid,

wooden mask, litmus test, laughing gas, atom bomb

doctor’s note, hammer of Thor, a metaphor,

a stronger rope, a longer hope, a golden tongue

le mot juste, safer roost, divining rod

echolocation and a sleeve of magical staves.

 

But in order to exit, I first had to step over the body.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Kristina Bicher is a poet, essayist and translator; her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Hayden’s Ferry Review ,Plume, Denver Quarterly, Narrative, Barrow Street, The Atlantic, Harvard Review and others. Author of She-Giant in the Land of Here-We-Go-Again (forthcoming from MadHat Press in 2019) and Just Now Alive (2014), she earned an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA from Harvard University.

by Angela Narciso Torres


Her sadness is coarse and thick as a horsehair overcoat.
As a child I tried it on. Its heavy folds engulfed me.

I learned to balance the weight on my head the way 
fruit sellers carried baskets of mangoes on their crowns.

Mornings it cloyed to my throat like the hairy pits of drupes.
My eyes teared. I tried to spit. It insisted, impeded my breathing.

I swallowed the bitter seed. Washed it down like the whale
who gulped a grown man and kept him in darkness for days.

As a child I learned from an aunt:
if you swallow a seed, a tree will grow in your stomach.

I nurture her sadness like a sapling. 
Decades of summers pass. The tree fruits.    

Lay your hand on my chest. Feel the heft
of sour-sweet drupes my mother’s tears have fed.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Angela Narciso Torres, author of Blood Orange (Willow Books Literature Award for Poetry), has recent or forthcoming work in POETRY, Missouri Review, Bellingham Review, Quarterly West, and Cortland Review.  A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program and Harvard Graduate School of Education, Angela has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Ragdale Foundation. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Manila, she’s a senior and reviews editor for RHINO and serves on the editorial panel of New England Review. 

by Maureen Seaton

I parted my own sea and you came to me: sort of unscripted, sort of splendid.
A loose bolt in the imagination—the very one that got me in trouble sipping 

lilac wine (stolen from you five minutes ago). Remember? You were breaking 
in your ukulele. All those tiny hand movements. I glued myself into a collage 

and you flew. There was something old school about us. Or scientifically
unsound. We made faces at Czars. My eyes were browning then, and yours

were shaped like starfish. You never know who you’ll run into as you sweep
the sea with a slender stalk. I’ve carried my life inside me for so long now, 

never knowing where it would take me, so irretrievable, so stark raving mine.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Maureen Seaton has authored twenty poetry collections, both solo and collaborative, most recently, Sweet World (CavanKerry, 2019) and Fisher (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). Her awards include the Iowa Prize, Lambda Literary Award, Audre Lorde Award, NEA fellowship, and the Pushcart. Her memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin Press, 2010), also garnered a “Lammy” and was recently reprinted in paperback (2018). ). With poet Neil de la Flor, she edited the anthology Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos (Anhinga Press, 2018). Seaton teaches at the University of Miami.

by Kristin Ryan

She is bruised by sunlight.

Uncertain hands

move towards

a tea cup full of grapes.

She remembers it being easier this way.

Bowls are simply too much:

 

they can trick you into filling them—

what if you can’t stop—

 

Listen: sometimes a girl can’t eat,

becomes afraid of kitchens and knives.

The way the air presses skin, through

blood into bone, into the marrow.

 

No, it’s better to stay here

in the living room where blues and yellows weep

 

from the starry nights, the sunflowers,

the wheat fields on the walls. She wonders if

 

this room will become her wheat field—

if his face will become her gun.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Kristin Ryan is a poet working towards healing, and full sleeves of tattoos. She is a recipient of the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor's Prize in Poetry, was listed as a Write Bloody Finalist, and has been nominated for Best New Poets. Her poems have been featured in Glass, Jabberwock Review, Milk and Beans, among others. She holds an MFA from Ashland University and works in the mental health field. She tweets @kristinwrites.

by Dion O’Reilly

Appetite makes them keen

when they scan the tunneled field

for shivers in the dead grass.

Their vision sharpens, pupils dilate.

From a mile away, they see

their feed, and they take it.

All my life, I’ve stowed my stories

like a box of banned books

under the bed. Each one, unforgiven,

an arc of trouble and want.

They quicken my hunger

for what I’ll never have

or never have again—

a mother mainly, certain men,

but a sister and brother too, a city

I walked in with hot paper cups,

my lips foamed with cappuccino

as it rained and rained.

Oh, the world feels tidal

when I get like this, when l can’t stop

hunting for something intimate and filling.

I see it lift from the soil.

The sun, a muzzle flash,

turning the meadow bright, burning

off the haze. I soar in, see it magnified,

everything itself only more so.


____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dion O’Reilly has spent  much of her life on a farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Sugar House Review, Rattle, The Sun, Canary Magazine, Spillway, Bellingham Review, Atlanta Review and a many other journals and anthologies, including a Lambda Anthology. Her work has been nominated for Pushcarts and a variety of prizes and contests.

by Erin Wilson

My mother did not bear me to metaphysical platitudes.

She pushed me out like a package through her purple crucifix,

her luxurious black fur a bramble at earth's door.

 

I spend my years recycling energy through this flesh flap.

 

And yet somewhere in the branches of the greenish-white sycamore

that grows stubbornly from the crescent of my mind, sings a bird.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Erin Wilson has contributed poems to The Adirondack Review, San Pedro River Review, Split Rock Review, and Minola Review, with work forthcoming from The American Journal of Poetry, Juked, and Kestrel. She lives and writes in a small town in northern Ontario, Canada.

by Crystal Stone

There are yellow skies and no

storm sirens. The hail bursts

large enough to break my window

and I think about letting nature in,

to clean my carpet. The thunder is

a heartbeat, mine. My eyes June

with longer days. They warm

and lengthen. The prairie grasses

outside look blue because my eyes

want them to water beaches

instead of streets. I want my bed

to boat my body on the coast I miss.

My hair is spring, blooms flyaways.

I’ve lost so much. Many poems, always

listening to others. They tornado my mind

empty of my words. I don’t want

to sound like the men I’ve talked to.

Only the women. Only the earth.

Only the grasses, wind, hail and sky.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Crystal Stone's poetry has previously appeared or is forthcoming in New Verse News, Occulum, Anomaly, Writers Resist, Drunk Monkeys, Poets Reading the News, Jet Fuel Review, Badlands Review, and elsewhere. She is an MFA candidate at Iowa State University. Her first collection of poetry, Knock-off Monarch (Dawn Valley Press), was recently released on Amazon.

by Mary Block

I want some loneliness justified by my location. 

 

I want to purchase a piece of the earth. 

 

I want to be in on that giant joke. 

 

I want a fence around my family. 

 

I want the burden of aging infrastructure. 

 

The urge to complain about all the things 

 

I own. I want the place to look overgrown. 

 

Like, potted plants in the bathroom. 

 

Big buxom banana leaves. Ferns. 

 

I want an alarm. I want to love a place 

 

so much I install a siren. 

 

I want a gut renovation. 

 

Maintain some original details 

 

without all the darkness and wasted space. 

 

I want some land. I want the earth 

 

and the sky above it. 

 

I want the mineral rights, the air rights. 

 

I want the right to take legal action 

 

if someone encroaches on my boundaries. 

 

I want to be right when I say 

 

this whole damn thing is mine.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mary Block lives and writes in her hometown of Miami, Florida. Her poems have been featured in Nimrod Journal, Sonora Review, Rattle, and Conduit, among other publications. She is a graduate of New York University's Creative Writing Program, a 2012 finalist for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and a Pushcart Prize nominee.

by Cara Waterfall

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

the belly of this hardscrabble street growls  under bald  acacia trees. smoke from the
cooking fires uncoils from metal roofs, riddled with bird shit.  in front, the floodlit
disarray of rickety chairs and tables, sticky with  bissap. bottomless bass of the radio
rumbles, static bumbles from the football game. 

a rooster’s scabbed feet dart between plastic tablecloths. an untethered dog yaps, taps its
stumpy tail, skinny strings of saliva swinging from jowl to jowl. 

a woman hovers over the grill. wrists darken with the spatter of palm oil and the gasp of
chillies. her fingernails rap iron. the air seethes with diesel, raw onion, singed feathers.

her thoughts simmer in dusk’s orange silo. 

the calabash spits, a runny yolk hisses. she jabs an eggplant with a blunt knife. her fingers
palpate braised catfish. she splits gray snails from their shells with a hammer. flies
wreathe her nose, mouth. dull pear ls of attieke crumble in a plastic bag. 

evening brims with the blather of hungry customers. blond globules of ginger beer blister
red straws, young throats. truckers loll, quaff Drogbas, trawling for gos

she untwines one memory, and then another; they brine in the swelter.

kids giggle, trip in and out of the shadows, spindly as seedlings. night ferments. smear of
cloud, scratch of stars. 

she emerges, serves lukewarm plates. her head-wrap unswaddles as she gnashes through
the flak of dust and bugthe din candling her nerves.

a baby bulges in the small of her back, eyes shuttered against the fat moon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

maquis: an outdoor eating area in Côte d'Ivoire; also means “scrub” or “bush”
bissap: juice made of dried hibiscus leaves, sugar and mint
attieke: a side dish prepared from fermented cassava pulp.
Drogbas: the beer “Bock de Solibra’ is nicknamed “Drogba” after the celebrated, Ivoirian footballer.
gos: young women


___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ottawa-born and Costa Rica-based, Cara’s work has been featured in Event, The Fiddlehead, and The Maynard. She won 2018 Room Magazine’s Short Forms contest, and second place in Frontier Poetry’s 2018 Award for New Poets. She was shortlisted for PULP Literature’s 2017 and 2018 The Magpie Award for Poetry prize. She has a diploma in Poetry & Lyric Discourse from The Writer’s Studio at SFU, and a diploma from the London School of Journalism.

by Molly Sutton Kiefer

this is what we saw: deer

with shucked hides, exposing the marimba of ribs

 

and red muscle—others, burned black

 

from rubber’s horrible offices or so scattershot

with flies as to be costumed in moveable scruff. 

 

There are the bloated boats and ripped-aways. 

 

Bird tatter, chipmunks made into flapjacks among

curls of tire, black spinnerets. 

 

When they came upon the dead deer in the woods,

 

she had to press one hand into another, as if in prayer,

stayed against the lifting the tongue

 

back into the cave of its mouth,

 

keep her from plucking the hungry burrs. 

He remembers too, the startle of sudden stopping—

 

that New Year’s when the shock of deer

scattered like pool balls in the crust of snow.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Molly Sutton Kiefer is the author of the full-length lyric essay, Nestuary (Ricochet Editions). She has published three poetry chapbooks, and has work in Orion, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Passages North, The Rumpus, Tupelo Quarterly, Fiddlehead Review, Ecotone, South Dakota Review, and The Collagist, among others. She is publisher at Tinderbox Editions and founder of Tinderbox Poetry Journal. She lives in with her family in Minnesota where she teaches.

by Anne Price

Now when I see old cane

     stiff and leaning off from the wall 

         of the stalks that thrived, I wonder was this 


what the English-speaking teacher

     used on my grandparents 

         when she called on them in words 


they couldn't understand to stand? 

     Eyes can be lowered; what to do 

         with two-tongued mouths but keep

the one hidden behind the stalk 

     of the other, hushed under the cane’s 

         whipped down whistle. Now when I see old cane 

I see the frayed cover 

     of the Cajun dictionary my mother 

         took out from her drawer only when

                                                              no one was looking. I confess 

                                                                         I stole that book, hid it behind

                                                                                             hung dresses, thinking I too

                                                              should learn like that, kneeled

                                                                                                behind the dresses

                                                                                                                      invisible knees


                                                                           sewn for women who 

                                                              hold raw cane and the unraveling red

                                                                                                        binding of a dictionary

                                                         with the same two-handedness. 

                                                                            Thinking it had to be hidden,

                                                                                                          which is another way


                                                                                   to forget, so that 

                                                         when I remembered I too should learn

                                                                                 and went with both hands looking

                                                                                    the big red book

                                                                                        had gone, stolen back

                                                                                                              or muttered away

                                                                       like the seated woman

                                                                                        mouthing two or three

                                                                                                   strange words at a time,


                                                                                       repeating herself at the wall.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anne Price was born and raised in southern Louisiana. She received her MFA from the University of Maryland, where she was awarded the Stanley Plumly Thesis Award. She has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

by Laura Romeyn

The jeep with its soft-top up

shreds past two small girls.

 

They are rushing the tallgrass

in matching violet nightgowns.

 

Wisconsin late summer.

Sun going down,

 

day like a bobbin

so warm. The air drags

 

low, circles its holdings

drifting there, then back

 

above. One of the girls,

the smaller one,

 

she kneels just in front

of the rhododendrons.

 

She has found something

in the green. A mid-section

 

undone, scratched open

to loosebelly softened

 

to the arbor of bone.

Grazed remains.

 

The lanes of the rib cage

carry their sidemeat,

 

fixed as the cold

of a silent and empty nave.

 

Put it in my hand

the older sister says,

 

and the younger one

reaches down and does.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Laura Romeyn is the author of Wild Conditions, winner of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship (forthcoming spring 2019). A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University (2015-2017), her poems have appeared in AGNI, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Ninth Letter, and The Yale Review, among other journals. She lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.

by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

You said you wanted no more than this

thin black dog draped over our feet

propped heel to heel and thigh to thigh

 

and fingers curved around a white mug

in whose coffee lilts a sweeter version

of the milky way bridging dream and dawn

 

and questions about the prayer mountain

I climbed as the daughter of strangers

made of incense and stones and returning

 

with nothing but the memory

of finding footholds in the musky earth

of a mountainside

 

without you & before us or the dog

who now lifts a red-lidded eye

as vast as stars just starting to spin.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh, 2016), which won the 2015 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and the 2016 Florida Book Award bronze medal for poetry, and was a finalist for the 2017 Milt Kessler Award. She has received poetry fellowships from Kundiman, the Knight Foundation, and the American Literary Translators Association, among others. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Best Small Fictions, The New York Times, and more. She serves on the advisory board for the Sundress Academy for the Arts and is a program coordinator for Miami Book Fair. See www.marcicalabretta.com.

by Cynthia Atkins

It has been steam cleaned

in 10 states. Slapped by a mother

spat on by a boss. This is how

everything is fine until it is not.

            It changed its mind

like umbrellas brought

on all the wrong days. 

It wore shoulder pads and burned

          a husband with a curling iron. 

It called 911. It did what it had to do. 

It held your bag of hygiene, oily

perfume, rotten teeth. Joy and pain

          live on the same street.  

It has an expiration date.  

It hung in the closet like a bad check.

It flagged all the pools of blood

        and the grief of mothers.

It was a dirge of old wars and vacant

parking lots. It was the place I sat alone

and cried all nightmare long.  

It is a junkyard clock

        with dog-chewed hands. 

It is God mouthing the anthem

I never learned. It gnawed

        at the wind shield, made of rain.  

It sat in a diner all night long, waiting

for the lord or the guy with a day job

        to take his knife home.  

This is the lake that lives within the skin,

that lives with an illness that dangles 

like a yo-yo on a string. And another body

       beget out of mine, long and wide

as the Rio Grande. The body just wants

something loyal and divine,

     a dog’s eyelids fluttering in sleep.

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Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers and In The Event of Full Disclosure, and the forthcoming collection, Still-Life With God. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Apogee, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Diode, Florida Review, Flock Lit, Green Mountains Review, Le Zaporogue, Los Angeles Review, North American Review, Rust + Moth, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Tampa Review, and Verse Daily, and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of The Net. Atkins teaches creative writing at Blue Ridge Community College and lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County VA with her family. See more at www.cynthiaatkins.com.