Spring Equinox 2022 Collection

Our first collection of personal human stories features creative non-fiction, poetry, and a photo essay, which explore themes of loss, grief, aging, abuse, relationships, healing, transformation, love, hope, identity, culture, and belonging. Our contributors range from individuals who have won awards and are already well-established to emerging writers. Part of the beauty of this endeavor is the connection that comes with sharing our stories. Having the privilege of reading and reviewing each of these pieces, we felt like we were cultivating a relationship with these writers and got to know them in an intimate way – just as if they were sitting across from us, telling us their story in person. The stories gave us chills, got us thinking, made us laugh, brought tears to our eyes – touched our humanity. We are honored and deeply grateful to share them with you.

Our Photo Essay contributor, Karyna Aslanova, a Kyiv-born Ukrainian multimedia artist, director, and photographer, kindly provided a link if you’d like to learn more about the Russia-Ukraine war and ways to support efforts in Ukraine. Please visit ukrainewar.carrd.co/ 

With gratitude,
The COALESCE Community Team

Cover Art by Kate Sowinski

Creative Nonfiction

The Bread of Affliction by Amy Cook

me: If Pat and I drive to Grandma and Bob’s on Sunday morning with groceries, do you think I can get Grandma to make me some matzah brei?

Art: Kate Sowinski

Dispatches From a First-Time Vipassana Retreat Attendee by Nam Tran

Day 1: Heading into the course, I had expectations regarding how the next ten days would unfold, which was exactly what the website said not to do. 

Art: Kate Sowinski

The Longest by Raki Kopernik

I didn’t see you at first. 

Art: Kate Sowinski

Spoiled Cereal by Tamara D.

I can’t remember exactly how it felt, living inside my marriage. 

Art: Kate Sowinski

The Sunday Paper Route: A Rite of Family Passage by John Chambers

It left black ink on my fingertips that wouldn’t wash off until the next day.

Art: Kate Sowinski

The Coyote and I: A Survival Guide by Rachel Ganz

In 2009, Taylor Mitchell, a 19-year-old folk singer, was found dead beneath two growling coyotes at a campsite in Highlands National Park in Cape Breton. 

Art: Kate Sowinski

Breath Built Rooms by Kip Zegers

In 4th grade, with a lay teacher at St. Juliana, Miss Doorban, I was sunshiny.

Art: Kate Sowinski


Walking With You in the Dallas Museum of Art by Samuel Spencer

We walked along those long, / wide halls, square rooms with their / assorted features of age, / theme, and aesthetic, and / you walked too fast. 

Art: Kate Sowinski

Let’s Say by Joseph Hardy

your mother is an exploded planet whose pieces / need to be kept apart, whirling in orbit around each other. 

Art: Kate Sowinski

Rites of Ownership by Linda McCullough Moore

I go to Pennsylvania / – that other commonwealth – / not my first trip but nearing now / my last, to move my mother to / Perpetual Care where it is intended / she will live until she doesn’t anymore.

Art: Kate Sowinski

On Leave Before my Discharge from the Air Force; Lovers; Poem for Rowan Arthur by Roy Bentley

That’s Ohio in the background: dark handsome streets, / the houses with lights on and decorated by OSU banners.

Art: Kate Sowinski

Photo Essay

Water, Water, Cleanse Your Daughter by Karyna Aslanova

It is painful for me to look at these photos now, not the images themselves but what is around them and behind them.

Art: Karyna Aslanova

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