I don't want to lose the thread We don't talk the whole way back in my friend's white truck because I've forgotten how to talk. I'm holding my breath like a fish spilled from its bowl. I can't breathe in a vehicle in motion. How can you talk over all that noise, when that's what we all are: furious engines following the blurred thread of the future. When the car slides into a snowbank, a dark silhouette appears, an old man up at the crack of dawn -- the serendipity of those hardened eyes and a shovel to dig us out. At night, I follow the trail of stars. I want to fuse myself to the future, forget these names, these harrowed paths, footsteps in the snow where I keep slipping. Poring over books at night, my eyes slide down the page. Words waver and drift. I confuse life with leave, word with the whole world.
A game of reductions Outside, I never wear a coat. My backpack hangs off one shoulder. I never remember waking, just the daily descent down the creaking stairs. I'm not learning to sneak, just to never make a sound. I walk on the outside of my feet, each step curled inward. I keep only the essential until the essential folds. My mother wakes early to give me food and drink. Her hands are overflowing. Let me never be as tired as my mother in her nightgown, a lamppost fading in the early dawn. Let me never be ashamed as I am now. Let me be like my fingers uncovered in winter. At school the teacher reads a poem about leaves fused to a frozen lake, delicate ribs cased in frost. She lets us see each leaf.
-- Esther Sadoff is a teacher and writer from Columbus, Ohio. Her poems have been featured or are forthcoming in Cathexis Northwest Press, Pidgeonholes, Red Ogre Review, Santa Clara Review, Drunk Monkeys, South Florida Poetry Journal, among others. She is also a poetry reader for Passengers Journal.