Nerve is the fuse that lights confidence. I don't lack confidence. I just don't have the nerve.
To The New Dog, With Love
She lay on the couch, exhausted and emotionally spent. She let her arm dangle off the edge, corpse-like. Her hand opened, subconsciously expecting to come up against warm fur. But he wasn’t there. Same couch, his same spot, the same comforting action she’d performed thousands of times. He was gone, and he wasn’t coming back.
His successor was there, across the room, busy with her own trauma. She, too, remembered too much. They weren’t aligned, this woman and this wonderful new dog. They weren’t attached at the heart. But perhaps they weren’t that different after all. They both cried in the night. They both lived in the past. They were both haunted by ghosts that robbed them of part of their souls.
She roused herself, said, “time for potty,” and clicked on the leash. They went out the door into the night together, side by side. She patted the new dog’s head. “I love you, you know?” The dog stuck her nose into the air, sniffed the night, perked her ears at the frog song. Peed. They turned and went back in, closing the door behind.
The Worst Thing to Even Happen to a Boy
Here is a piece I wrote for a 100-word story site, that wasn't chosen. I thought I'd share it since it's the middle of July and I have a killer sore throat and woozy head. The writing prompt was a picture of Army men toys with a rainbow-hued something in the background.
The Worst Thing to Ever Happen to a Boy
Sick in summertime, noon, friends’ laughter outside his window, where Bobby is condemned to rest. Nothing worse has ever happened to a boy.
Disobeying orders, he slides out of bed, jammies damp with sweat, and hauls out the Army guys. They crouch on the dusty desk, against the fuzzy warm rainbow of grandma’s afghan over the window, softening the sun.
Bobby coughs, shivers, blows hot breath up and over his face. His head pounds. Bang! He makes them skirmish, fall.
Back to bed, mom calls. His hand lingers. He pouts. It’s the worst thing to ever happen to a boy.
Of A January Night
So cold are the clouds
That touch the face of the moon
Little Black Snake
Little black snake,
just trying to get out
from under foot,
searching for the sun
with sideways indecisiveness
and no intention whatsoever of
twisting up my pant leg.
I appreciate the poetry
of adjacent jack-o-lanterns,
gap-mouthed and devoid of stringy guts,
and of piles of crunchy yellow leaves.
The same leaves
in the same corner
that will forever beg
a second look for you.
I feel your presence,
even if you’re gone for good.
I’ll watch cracks and corners
for a narrow flash of black,
and descend the stairs uneasily,
watchful always for that dark tapered end
of so much motion
Of the Wind
It’s an early autumn wind. It ushered summer out, but fall is not yet here. We are stuck between the in-between seasons. Green leaves stick tightly to branches that bend low over green grass. Nothing is giving in to decline. Not yet. You get a sense that the air is warm but the wind overpowers it. At the ocean, you can stand and face the water and wind, and eventually the cold wind will begin to feel warm. My brother taught me that. Not so with a Midwestern pre-autumn wind. It’s cold. You worry about the winter wind. You wonder where the wind goes from here. You think about eternity. It’s the kind of wind that will blow clean your house and your soul. If only you open your windows.
© Jill Kiesow