Issue 58: What Remains Readers' Notes

Issue 58: What Remains Readers' Notes

March 02, 2021

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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