Exquisite Duet: Peauladd Huy and Sara Henning

the-duetExquisite Duet (formerly Exquisite Quartet) is not so much a composition between two writers, but rather something created within the murky midlands of each author’s mind, yet set off by the same first sentence. Meg Tuite chooses two writers each month and gives them a first sentence to start with and a 250-word limit to finish an exquisitely mesmerizing story or poem. These duet-dueling writers will craft two completely different cosmos that have rotated, pitched, and blasted from the depths of their cerebral cortex to the twitching nerve endings of their digits onto dueling keyboards and separate screens until their sublime duet is prepared to see the light of an audience.

 Zero as Air

by Peauladd Huy

Air puddles necessary poison between us
And a host of the unfortunate—

How many they are to a colony
Cluster, isolated:

Impossible natures—
Why rain must come

Falling? The lawn is buried with petals
I am not there to hear. I am late

Again. The moon in its early
Crescent, I stand to see

What they make it seem—
All motion. A dagger of light.

Heading westward, a sail of darkness.
A sea of night leaves unbridled, lifted

The callous air their wounds,
And the fatigue settling in

Giving up like final flood
Surrounds the last

Standing house. Nothing speaks below
A whisper. A warm breath leaving

Dampness in my ear. A cool drift
Blowing off me:

What if none of this happened?
It’s just me (too late or early).

My time is off. Often
I feel I am a breath away reaching

Emptinesses of destinations.
One amongst nobody

I can speak of—a language I’ve kept
(Hearing myself speak) like a number amongst nothing,

Amongst zero: (finds itself nothing) undefined
I am. Zero as air.

 The Truth of Them

by Sara Henning

Air puddles necessary poison between us.

Each spring: the Bradford
       pear tree’s merciless aroma
                  of sex. No matter the hardwood
       mulch trafficked

for pine straw
       or my grandmother’s
                  shearing, the smell pulses
       through the yard

like cats skulking
       the trenches of mulch
                  islands, rubbing their spare
       bodies against

sun-raptured bark.
       Fifty, testing positive
                  for chlamydia, she believed
       the pearl stain

on her underwear
       was some relic of her body
                  refusing trespass. Grandmother’s
       doctor asking,

Is there a chance your
       husband’s been unfaithful?—
                  As if faith had ever been
       the fabric swathing

her body to his body.
       As if infection came
                  from a Holiday Inn toilet,
       his lie like semen-swill

staining the humid
       breach of air and pear
                  flesh. And when she asks
       again, and he heaves

her cage of zebra
       finches down the stairs,
                  the cage’s door, like the truth
       of them, unhinges

its gravity lock:
       birds mated for life
                  veering into baluster.
       Birds, jeweled

with contusions,
       accelerating with the heat.
                  After he’s gone to bed, she’ll turn
       to their map

of scat—stool’s hypsometric
       tints, urate’s chalky relief
                  shading, some histological slice
       she can clutch

between tissues like an MRI
       atlas. The song, emblazoned,
                  she grasps for even after
       the finches,

lush-stricken, seam
       to the contour intervals
                  of plush carpet. She’ll call them
       frost-softened stonefruit

severed from reverence.
       She’ll watch them, blooms
                  muscled off her body, fruiting
       in the dusk.


Peauladd Huy was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. With generosity and graciousness of the people at Connotation Press, her first poetry manuscript is due out sometime soon. She lives on the eastern coast of the U.S. with her family.

Sara Henning is the author of A Sweeter Water (Lavender Ink, 2013), as well as two chapbooks, Garden Effigies (Dancing Girl Press, 2015) and To Speak of Dahlias (Finishing Line Press, 2012).  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Crazyhorse, Quarterly West, Green Mountains Review, Crab Orchard Review, and RHINO. Winner of the 2015 Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize, she is currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Assistant Managing Editor for the South Dakota Review and as associate editor at Sundress Publications.


One response to “Exquisite Duet: Peauladd Huy and Sara Henning

  1. Pingback: Exquisite Duet is published in JMWW with Peauladd Huy and Sara Henning, July 2015 | Meg Tuite·

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