Before the world rattles to life, I am here, awake, indexing us. You could sleep soundly through an act of war but I bolt upright to a scuttle of rodents in the walls, nesting in the fiberglass for warmth. The things we hear become the things we are. A train passing through, screaming its urgent whistle of freight. The clanging emphysema of radiant heat. We’ve failed, and we’ve hurt each other. Sometimes thoughtlessly, sometimes by design. We’ve left each other to a vacant house, alone with the muscle of our rage. Here, though, in this bone-crushing moment of a world falling apart, we live in some isosceles miracle of healing. I reach across and touch your arm, knowing your body will follow.
Count the cars of the freight train that idles you, bushels of corn followed by stacks of lumber, graffiti animated by zoetrope as this baby, your first, crowns between your legs. Full muscle curling your birthing daughter to a fist, urging her back from the noisy world long enough to be caught alive by a midwife. 72, 73, 74, . . . 89, harvesting the power of your ponderous body and her small hand for all they will be forced to carry.
Mind the Burners
This is the interval when a husband, in a separate room, cooks dinner. A potato, a leek, baked into a crust worthy of winter knives and forks. He recites the recipe to himself and listens to music softly as the notes permeate the plaster. Sleeves accordioned to the elbow, his hands autolyse flour and water to dough. This is the carbon dating of love after a fight with slammed doors. No contrition or stitching back together. Simply a softening into quiet once the storm has passed and spared the roof. Voices, braiding into an ear. A potato, a leek, becoming a pie.
Christy Prahl is a philanthropy professional, foraging enthusiast, and occasional insomniac. A 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in the Blue Mountain Review, Passengers Journal, Ghost City Review, Unbroken, Boston Literary Magazine, the Bangalore Review, and others. She splits her time between Chicago and rural Michigan and appreciates subways and silos in equal measure. More of her work can be found at https://christyprahl.wixsite.com/christy-prahl.