Issue No. 5, Summer 2013

Will o’ Wisp
Sandy Hiortdahl

Oh what joy in the jack’o’lantern’s leer,
My child fears rejoiced in pumpkin terrors—
Evening came and through the gloom I saw it,
Flashing its light through the glowering fog,
A will’o’wisp beckoning me onward.
Follow I did, into the creaking marsh,
Through the swampy underbrush at twilight:
Seeking the flash with its blinking Morse code.

The quick dance of bats, the cool hoot of owl,
I trudged knee-deep in the cold mud, wanting
The will’ to call me still, to make it real.
And following still, I’m too lost to know
If the blinking will’o’wisp calls me home
Or leads me more deeply to darker fate.


Sandy Hiortdahl is a recipient of the Sophie Kerr Prize and a Maryland State Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Novel. She has an M.F.A. from George Mason University and a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming this year in Barely South Review, Eternal Haunted Summer, Alimentum Journal, OCEAN Magazine, Poetic Story/KY Story, MatterPress Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Nemesis.