Issue 59: Forged Readers' Notes

Issue 59: Forged Readers' Notes

May 26, 2021

We are thrilled to share some hand-picked readers' notes featured in Issue 59: Forged.


My poem is now “forged” into a collection of poems and essays—issue 59 of Ruminate. And, like the iron whose form is forever changed by heat and hammer, I believe our collective writings are altered by their new context, are forged into a new shape together and, perhaps, even additional meaning(s).

Judith Sornberger, Poetry contributor

At a distance, my ring looks gray. Closer, you see its wood-grain pattern, a feathered arc and swoop: the result of his hands wielding elemental tools—hammer, tongs, anvil, fire—to bend and fold the metal over and over again. Have you ever noticed how much wood grain resembles a fingerprint? Count the rings, trace the life line in each palm: together we've been bent and folded on the hard edges of what is (in sickness and in health), building a life by hand with what we've been given.With three little lives, now, looking to us with their lake-clear eyes. What can we give them, what can we salvage from a burning world? Knowing their maker, and how to make things.

Melissa Reeser Poulin, Fairview, OR


“I heard that you were going by a different name with your friends,” he said.

I looked up from my lap, waiting for him to laugh.

“Would you like us to call you that?”


My principal’s acceptance gave me courage to tell my parents. They were not so accepting. My dad believed it was an agenda being forced onto me, shaping me into someone I’m not. My mom stayed silent. 

My transcripts say my dead name, but when I go to college my name will legally be Jaxson. I’ve learned in life that you have to forge your own path. 

Jaxson Snyder, Dryden, MI


For three years I have hammered away at vocabulary lists, chanted verb conjugations with every stroke of my bike pedals and forced my dictionaries flat until their backs broke, dreaming of the day I’d coax, complain, chastise and comfort in the language of Lorca. Verde que te quiero verde. But when I opened my mouth my face would redden, my stomach twist and I would stare at my shoes, silent, afraid I’d warp my beloved Spanish with my blunt gringa breath.

She’s in the bathroom, again, and a man is about to sit next to me. I bring my hand down on the seat, look up and say, way too loudly, “Está ocupado.” It’s taken. Struck like a new coin, in a single blow. He smiles and steps back.

That evening, on the platform between cars, I take a long drag on a short, dry Mexican cigarette. Scattered maguey cactus point tall, blue-green spikes to the sky. The sun burns like a low gas flame behind the hills.

Victoria Lewis, Portland, OR



Each issue of Ruminate includes personal notes from our readers on a topic—we love hearing from our readers! For even more stories, poetry, and art from our community, be sure to subscribe.

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