Published at SmokeLong Quarterly online 23 May 2016; in print 1 June 2016.
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SmokeLong guest reader (and personal hero of mine) Kathy Fish chose this story as her favorite during her week of guest editing. She tweeted at week’s end:
“Decision made. I chose one out of one hundred and thirty-three submissions. And holy cow, were they good. Well done, writers.”
She had this say to about “Summer Baby”:
“This story simply clobbered me. Weighing in at 290 words, it is bursting with language and sound, tenderness and beauty. ‘A girl will crawl out of the mud of me…’ Yes.”
For me, getting in SmokeLong is a wonder. My first two teachers of flash were Randall Brown and Kathy Fish, both of whom share a storied history with the magazine. This piece was written not under their tutelage, but with my super-secret-handshake-club workshop of flash friends. We call ourselves The Fishtank, because we all are united in some way as past students of Kathy’s.
I love the English language, its crazy history, its vestigial spellings, but there are often times when the language fails me, where there should be a word but there is not one. Or I hear something and I cannot spell its sound. I always got a bang out of that old cartoon, Blondie by Chic Young, because he took such great pains to spell Dagwood’s snore. Hah hah — and look at his boss’s expressive statement!! To me, he’s saying Gnnnnnnnnhhhhh!!!!
I’m also keen on this publication at SmokeLong because the artwork, that beautiful picture of dewy grass, is provided by my best friend and husband, the artist Paul H Weisgerber. He knows how to spin gold. He uses the same tools that DaVinci did: Squirrel-hair bristles, soft cloths, moll stick. He’s got an amazing eye, a legendary color sense. He took that photograph in 2007 when he got his new Pentax K10D. I like how, as in the story, the image has silver rings, chromatic aberrations, and looks like the crickets sound. It looks like a multiplication of something very special.
Babies come when they come, nature is the driver of life, there are wonderful things we’ll never, ever control.
Thank you for stopping by, and I hope that you enjoy reading “Summer Baby.”