Not a single sound exists
in the quietness of the morning
when the world has stopped
for one brief moment of time.
The leaves lay motionless on the trees
the road empty of cars
the birds quietly in their nests.
The drawers that belong to my desk
sit in the garage, filled with things to be sorted.
The picture frames of our favorite beach
lounge casually, propped up against the wall.
Books lay strewn on the floor in unsorted piles
with unread words waiting for a keen eye.
The alarm clock waits in dormant sleep.
I imagine her, a pushpin
on the other side of the map.
She does not remember my name
and I wonder if that was because my father chose it.
She calls me by her sister’s name
my daughter’s name
but never my own.
When I see her, I tend to seek
that glimmer of recognition
for her marble orbs to scan over me
register that I am her flesh and blood.
I could stare for an eternity into those eyes
but all I see is myself staring back and I wonder
if some part of her has already let go.
One day, on a quiet morning just as this
I will be in her house, looking over her things
the painting of the mother and daughter over her mantel
the collection of elephant figurines
her clothes folded unceremoniously in the drawers
and she will not be there to not recognize me.
I will be unrecognizable to myself.
There is something magical about grinding my own beans. The rip of the bag, the elation of the dense, musty richness escaping. I pour them in the grinder one by one until they hit the metal bottom with the clink, clink, clink like champagne glasses during a toast. Those beautiful brown beans unaware of the sharp blades by which they slide, nestle among. The gesture of shaking the grinder, ceremoniously pressing my thumb down firmly, clicks into place, no turning back. The whir of the motor cuts, rips, obliterates until all that is left is a fine chocolate sand, to dust in a matter of seconds. I count to thirty just to be sure each piece is thoroughly chopped, ground to just the right consistency, while the crystalline coffee pot sits in the room, quietly waiting for me to complete my execution. With the soft putter of the percolation, a mere gesture of its company, the scene of the massacre disappears. The sharp, biting aroma inviting and familiar, an old friend come to visit, steam rising above its center. The light reflects in its eyes, not quite like a sparkle, but a twinkle, in the anticipation of its intoxicating, electric energy.
The Trees that Bind Us
I put my hand to my chest.
My heart speaks back
in rhythmic beats like
the steady motion of a drummer.
It is calming, soothing
as if all of creation moves to this dance.
The sun hits the tops of the trees
illuminating their heads, ordained
from a divine presence.
Each morning, each moment unique
yet connected to the other
tied together by a string, delicately draped.
Below branches bend
into contorted shapes.
Like limbs, their top halves coated
with white, wondrous snow
the two sides of nature
two sides of humanity’s struggle.
The roots, steady and strong
like legs that hold the trees in place
impenetrable against the bold breeze blowing
stretching deeper beyond the layers
of earth and matter, here before us
here after we are gone.
Jennifer Novotney’s poetry is forthcoming in Buddhist Poetry Review and Amethyst Review and has appeared in Poetry Quarterly and The Vignette Review, the latter for which she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2014, she won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for her debut novel, Winter in the Soul. She lives in North East Pennsylvania with her family, where she teaches English and creative writing.