Cardinals — crimson and soft brown

Two cardinals perch in our mock orange bush, a brilliant flash of feather and beak, meeting and mating, much to the joy of our cats, who want to eat these these little creatures.

Around our Vermont house is yet an oasis of snow and ice, not a single sign of grass yet apparent. In the front yard, the rhododendron emerges stubbornly. I’m here! I’m here!

On this early morning that promises warmth, lines from poet Marie Howe.


Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days…

We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss–we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you. 

— Marie Howe, from “What The Living Do”

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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