Jaydn DeWald

With Fire, the Field

Play it cool, man. Nuclear bunker–themed escape rooms are so played out. Haven’t you enough lonesome nights in the sea cabin, playing Alice Coltrane in the wobbly dark? All morning he heard the children play in the yellow leaves of her poem. The carbide lantern still playing on their lips and orange-blossom eyelids. Later, hunting mushrooms with his son, the patrón will downplay the situation: no stormclouds, no white-rumped vultures. No pain or swelling? Click here for gameplay examples. See insert (enclosed) for pay-to-play guidelines. What’s the difference, really, between play and pray? You play the odds, I pray to God. One minute the boy was playing with it on the bed, the next the side of his head was gone—a blood-slick absence his younger brother would never not ever unsee. “Let us pray.” Let us play it once more from the top, pianissimo. The way her shadow plays on their snowdrift of blankets. Modern interplay of breath and gesture. The summer I slept in a hollow of shrubbery and awoke, each morning, to a prayer of birdsong. “What’re you playing at?” said the Dictator, already dropping his tranquilized Tom Collins. We play for keeps here. Whereupon she would play the unlikeliest of roles: nun, jazz singer, evil twin sister. Our son in a glass-walled room playing with nesting dolls in a dream. You know it’s okay to clutch your prayer beads, don’t you? He said he could play dead for centuries on the shores of her heart. 

In our dream band, on bari sax:

Jaydn DeWald (he/they) is the author of the essay collection Sheets of Sound (Broken Sleep Books, 2020), a cross-genre book, The Rosebud Variations (BSB, 2021), and several limited-edition chapbooks, most recently A Love Supreme: fragments & ephemera, winner of the 2019 Quarterly West Chapbook Contest. A microfiction chapbook, 7 Miniatures, is out from Red Bird Chapbooks. They are Assistant Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Piedmont University in Demorest, Georgia, and serve as managing editor for COMP: an interdisciplinary journal.

Photo by Dominik Kiss

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