Simple Sweetness

Eleven years ago, my family had a member injured in a woods accident, involving a nighttime search and rescue, and myself driving to the ER at two in the morning with my two-year-old in the back of my old Volvo.

Of that time, I remember many things — in particular that so many people I knew had chainsaw accidents, men and women, that people compulsively shared with me.

That family member healed; our lives moved along. But every year, that shadow of how very badly things might have gone awry for us, in a few single moments, moves over me.

So, it’s with particular satisfaction that my two-year-old is now thirteen, and spent a recent night sleeping with her friend on a trampoline. All around them, the coyotes howled, and the sky, unbroken in the rural dark, was radiant with shooting stars. At three in the morning, cold and covered with a heavy dew, the girls ran into the friend’s house, laughing, and fell asleep again.

Just simply alive,
Both of us, I
And the poppy.

— Issa


By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


  1. Beautiful (girls and prose). My husband is in the hospital right now – not for a chainsaw accident, although every time he picks up that machine and lugs it into the woods I cringe (and insist he takes a walkie-talkie). The fragility of life is always so shocking and, somehow, unfair.

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