Prayer on the way to the grocery by Sarah Allred

Prayer on the way to the grocery

by Sarah Allred

is she in there
would they let me enter
can they smell my expatriation, my absence
the reek of logic and earthy pleasures
would I dip my hand
in that confusingly municipal
basin of hallowed water and
dredge it across my body
in quarters and
would I remember to genuflect and
would I find the comfort
she gave at fourteen:
slightly left of the altar
the byzantine magdalene
not who we are supposed
to supplicate to but
the mother instead,
the mother I still crave


Hannah /6&26 by Sarah Allred


I am not afraid of anything
not even a Tyrannosaurus rex
she says cheeks plump
in the yard I pick
tiny yellow flowers from
between thorns I think they
look like berries
I nod and agree

I am afraid I will never
be able to love again
she says cheeks plump
in the yard I exhale
smoke and wish I could
say anything true that would
let us feel better but
I nod and agree

The Bookmark by Sarah Allred

The Bookmark

by Sarah Allred

20170104_113558I log on to Mom’s computer; I have to print forms to renew a form, or something. I open her browser. While I’m waiting for everything to load I scan her bookmarks: Pinterest, Facebook, something about organic living, Instagram. My eye snags on the last one. It isn’t a link to my Mom’s account; it’s a bookmark for my sister’s page.

I feel the quick shock I always do when I see or hear her name, like sticking your tongue on a battery. I should know it’s coming, it has been years, and I’ve touched the tip of my tongue to hundreds of black and gold squares in my life, but that metallic zip catches me off guard and lingers in my mouth, every time.

I swallow.

I look back towards the hall, where my mother is laying in bed with a migraine. I feel immediately awful for her. I try not to think about Hannah. I try to come to terms with the fact that right now, and maybe always, she just isn’t here. And it hurts when I think about it, but I accept it, and swallow it down, and I go through my life just a little bit lonelier.

But I know Mom thinks about her every day, I didn’t need to see the bookmark to know that. There isn’t I time I come to visit her that she doesn’t mention the prodigal daughter. I just sit. I think about how Mom probably looks at pictures  of her every day. I think about how she is dealing with the grief that most women hope they never know: the grief of losing a child. I think about how that grief is tempered by other things: the joy that my sister is still healthy, and alive, just somewhere else; the anger and pain of rejection, but multiplied a hundred by a hundred times; the guilt of thinking that maybe it is her fault and the paradoxical rage of knowing she did everything she knew how to do.

I press my tongue on the roof of my mouth. A man on the radio said if you do this, it is impossible for your body to produce tears. It was meant for as a helpful tip in stressful work situations. Quickly I realize the man on the radio lied, or was misinformed.

I dash the tears from my face. I can’t do this every day. It would rip me apart. I am now, for all intents and purposes, an only child. If I think about it the loneliness is too much, the betrayal is too much, the thought of her caring so little about us to do this, to give up, is gutting.

So I try not to think about it. I think, instead, of how I can be a better daughter. I think of how I can love my parents enough for the both of us. I think of how I can make my parents proud enough for the both of us.

I think about clicking that button.

January 2017 Featured Writer: Sarah Allred

January 2017 Featured Writer: Sarah Allred

sarah-allredSwimming with Elephants Publications would like to introduce our January 2017 Featured Writer: Sarah Allred.

Sarah Allred is a freelance writer and painter living in the small town of Lompoc, California. Inspired by the natural beauty of her surroundings and her emotional nature, Allred uses various art forms to express and process the events of her life. Her body of work, The Art of Self Preservation, was featured locally in November 2016. Allred plans to continue creating through 2017 and utilizing whatever outlets she can to distribute and show her works.

Learn more about Sarah Allred through her  Facebook page ( and Instagram handle (sarah_katherin).

The three poems and two short stories included in this short preview revolve around the theme of family. Her intention in sharing these works is to let others see that perhaps their family struggles may not be unique, and that it is acceptable to go through periods of painful growth with loves ones. Like many authors, Allred seeks to share her works  into the world as a means of catharsis for herself, and to create space in her writing practice for new themes and works to come through. The artwork included on this page is also Allred’s original work.

We are thrilled to have Sarah Allred as our first Featured Writer of 2017 and hope that you enjoy her work just as much as we have.