We are thrilled to share some hand-picked readers' notes featured in Issue 58: What Remains.
From Teresa H. Janssen, Port Townsend, WA
A wren hit the window yesterday. The gray male with a burnish of gold bounced off the glass onto a plank of the porch and lay still. The poor delicate-boned thing, just going about its day. A chickadee, as startled and curious as I, hopped over to take a look, then flitted off to a nearby tree.
I watched from the house for the slightest breath and murmured a prayer for its small feathered soul and the multitudes of innocents lost to spotless windows, bug-splattered car grills, predatory cats, and power lines.
My husband approached with a shovel and offered to toss the bird into the woods. “No,” I called from inside. “It may revive.” I checked it between clearing the table and loading the wash, but saw no movement from the plumy lump, its toes like tiny bent twigs.
In the half hour it took to fold the laundry, when it slipped my mind, the wren came back to life and flew away. A few tufts of down—all that remained.
From Zach Murphy, St. Paul, MN
We chopped off each other’s hair during quarantine. When we looked into the mirror, we felt like everything might be all right in the end.
From Jennifer Christgau-Aquino, San Mateo, CA
Uncle Roger got the farm when they all died. So we helped him pack.
We drove out of Minneapolis. Two hours through fields of feathery trees and hills of corn and tin barns. It was motor oil and seeds in our California teeth and snaking roads. Our noses burned, our gums ached, our eyes sought straight lines.
We turned past a gate and drove through a tree tunnel where I saw our land for the first time. Miles of tan ears as warm as my hand. The whole place a sound—of crickets rubbing, of things nestling hidden, of trees soaking light.
We shook hands with the door knob on the white house where they all once lived. A moon-shaped hole in the ceiling bathed the inside in linen light. An Easter-egg blue refrigerator holding a cracked mixing bowl. A baking table with flour drawers. A dining room, chairs set.
The pipes of an organ still breathing; milk jugs rung in white circles. Pictures framed of people, strong jawed with knuckle-y hands. I felt my face, my joints, all the places where I connect. The sky fading it all.
We rubbed our boney fingers on things, taking and taking, rolling them to the metal barns, until our legs were crooked and night fell. We left Uncle Roger there in a mobile home alongside the white house with the torn roof he swore he’d get to fixing.
We drove out to fireflies flicking a glow in darkness so black you could get lost. I thought not of the foreign miles of flat road ahead, but of my hands on doorknobs touching skin.
Each issue of Ruminate includes personal notes from our readers on a topic—we love hearing from our readers! For even more stories, poetry, and art from our community, be sure to subscribe.
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