Each essay is 500 words no more no less.
The coffee turned cold.
Stuck my finger in a socket,
thought it might help,
only stood my hair on end.
Took two sticks out of my bag of tricks
to rub it warm.
Hold it gingerly between the fingers you have left.
You don’t want to lose any more.
Oh, sorry, let me explain…
I only have the six now,
he broke the other four with a solid stomp of his left boot.
He assures me it was an accident,
me and my fingers were heavy,
Anyway, I put the dead four on ice,
was hopeful they would attach again.
That was awhile back.
But still, I saved them in a pickle jar,
figured I could live with what remained.
Plus, he likes pickles, thought it would be a friendly reminder, so he might regard me and the six before knocking around in his boots again.
But he’s always reaching for the fat-free dressing the pickle jar is tucked behind.
He puts that watered-down shit on everything, like ketchup on prime rib – it ruins everything.
I do not get it!
Doesn’t full bodied taste better,
with its dependable buttermilk base?
Oh, what do I know.
Well, digits anyway.
Some things won't grow back.
It is the shooting stardust that you are lucky enough to see.
The dog-tail wag when you walk in the door.
Spring's first tulip, crisp as snap peas.
Warm wind, rustling leaves in trees, a first kiss, strong arms draped around shoulders
like a sparrow's song.
I've found grace by surprise a few times.
In a homeless man on the highway exit ramp
whose ragged, worn face reminded me of...me.
I saw it one day in the downy feathered gosling crossing a busy street, ushered by expanding wings and slapping feet.
It unfolded once in the hand of a small child
who offered me his disintegrating Cheerio.
I found it resting on the face of a dying woman as I kept a bedside vigil.
I've found grace in darker places, too.
Hovering above my crouched and cradled form, hope draining from my body, a severed artery.
It was lying beside me that first night, when the bed was empty on one side.
It was still there: in the gasps of air between choking tears.
Lately grace gently pushes me forward,
helping me slip into my slippers each morning when the covers want to cover my face.
But grace has taken the form of fortune teller today who sees what I cannot:
That I will be okay.
This morning, a bright yellow daisy
birthed in the cracked pot
outside in our garden
you’ve let go to seed.
I crushed that pretty thing
with my dirty ring finger.
It was un-apologetically beautiful,
It was a cactus bed
we slept in then.
I move through days with
smoldering wood for limbs.
I leave a trail of smoke
and smell of burning flesh.
No longer woman,
Tonight we watched lightning bugs
mate from our front porch.
Your finger brushed mine.
I turned to ash.
Writing has always been a therapeutic outlet for me.
In this space, I intend to vulnerably share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences as I navigate middle age.
Of the thousands of hours I’ve logged in television consumption during the pandemic, it was the Australian series 800 Words character George Turner that landed a flicker of inspiration. George writes about his life experiences in a column that is always 800 words, no more no less.
Essay and Poetry Editing Credits:
Christopher James Bayer email@example.com
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