At the hardware store in town, the woman ringing up my chicken feed asks if I’m going out partying for New Year’s Eve.

Are you kidding me? I blurt out. Then I apologize and ask about her plans. I like these hardware store folks, with their humor, their can-do willingness to solve my piddling problems — a clogged bathtub drain, a stuck lamp switch.

The cold’s broken for December’s last day. Before dusk, I follow the raccoon tracks from my compost down the snow-crusty hillside, wondering where this creature lives.

Another of my daughter’s homemade calendars folded up and put away, the day-to-day record of our lives — work schedules and friends and dentist appointments — the stuff of our lives.

For this year? Stay solvent. Paint the kitchen gold, my bedroom turquoise. Swim in the Atlantic with my kids. Follow wild tracks and fill the creative well.

Why speak of the use
of poetry? Poetry
is what uses us.

— Hayden Carruth



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.


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