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Rust and Luster - Talena McNeely

In the dream I was slowly drifting in a rusted raft, pulling strands of pearls out of a green lagoon clouded with mud. The gleaming beads bled dark blue and purple; they dragged medallions of sheen, heady chains constricting. I felt the spray of the water as the grip tightened around me, overlapping like a serpent searching

for heat and blood. A final upheaval of strands sprung from the water, and stopped moving. I reached the end of the chain, surprising myself. I felt something was final, but I could not locate the root of the luster. II. I think of my father— how he bought a pearl nestled in a cracked oyster at a local market, open and vulnerable,

and attached an emerald to it. It shone from a distance under the sunlight,

but it was fake.

I search for him and yet the right name is never yielded;

He cannot be unearthed from the soil

of loss and time.

His mother is long dead

and his sister waited but

moves the past

into the attic.

His wife keeps photographs tucked in one hidden slot, turned over,

and his daughter is left clutching

the rust of pearls

and emeralds.


Talena McNeely works as a copywriter and lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, cat, and leopard gecko. She holds a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing and a master's degree in English Literature. She has enjoyed writing creatively, typically poetry, since she was a child.



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