STILL LIFE
by Sarette Albin

Still Life

In the morning’s stillness I slipped out
From your loose embrace and left
You sleeping in, face craned upward,
Chin exposed and underbelly white.
The space my head had lain a moment before,
Nothing now but a wrinkled, plaintive dent.

I crept slow across the night-cooled tile, protecting
Not your dreams or deep drawn breaths
But the quiet of the house itself.
A lighter sleeper than us both.

In the kitchen, I cringed at the rumble
Of water filling the kettle’s empty belly,
The stove’s sharp click as it sparked to life, and
The scrape of one ceramic mug seceding from the rest—
A thund’rous violation, all of it,
Of the still and sacred dawn.

At the table I sat, warmth cradled in my hands,
Steam whispering past my cheeks and brow.
Then, silence returned. Like a spooked deer,
Stepping back into an open field, keen to disappear
Forever at the first foreign sound. I waited
Transfixed until it knew I posed no threat.

And I breathed a prayer into my darkening tea
That you wouldn’t awaken for hours and send the
Silence skittering away for good.

Dusk

We walked together through the park while the dog sniffed every tree;
The air was thin and sharp with cold as the sun slipped slow from view.
We talked about the way we were when it was just you and me. And
The stories that we spun were old, favorite tales we loved to tell.

The air was thin and sharp with cold as the sun slipped slow from view.
Yet in the growing darkness, we revelled in this sweet repeating, for
The stories that we spun were old, favorite tales we loved to tell.
Our pace grew languid, our steps unhurried, and the shadows stretched before us.

Yet in the growing darkness, we revelled in this sweet repeating, for
We knew then that the world had passed us; there’d be no catching up. So,
Our pace grew languid, our steps unhurried, and the shadows stretched before us.
When did it happen, you mused aloud, when did we fall behind?

We knew then that the world had passed us; there’d be no catching up. So,
After speculating for awhile at the exact year or day or hour, we gave up on your query-
When did it happen, you mused aloud, when did we fall behind-
And walked together through the park while the dog sniffed every tree.

Undertow

He loves like the ocean meets shore.
Sometimes rising slowly, silent and creeping
Inch over inch until you’re completely submerged.

Then withdrawing without notice, leaving you
Scattered with seaweed, shells, driftwood piles,
And temporal tide pools with a trapped fish or two.

Sometimes raging unchecked, waves white-capped
And foaming, roiled by the wind. Everything in his path, you
Most of all, dragged into his tumult, his waiting black depths.

And every so often, dazzling and bright, he reflects
The sun, ablaze but unburnt. Inviting you in,
To swim in his fire, immersed in liquid gold.

About the Author:

Sarette Danae holds a BA from Iowa State University and a Masters of Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University. Originally from Seattle, she is a passionate educator, avid outdoorswoman, and writer of poetry as well as creative nonfiction. Her work can be seen in magazines such as Confluence, The Door is a Jar, Ethel, and Blue Mountain Review.

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