Short Visit

A retired man shows up at my job, looking for a little info and then stays to talk, sitting in a chair while I lean against one of the cement posts that hold up the ceiling, and the building overhead.

A former landscaper, he’s survived numerous joint replacements, an overseas war as a young man, and he’s holding cancer at bay, for now. He’ll succumb to the cancer, he says, at some point. But for now, he tells me how much he savors that first slurp of hot tea every morning.

I have plenty to do, but for that time, I might as well, really, have nothing else to do. He tells me about a double blossom primrose flowering in his garden. Another spring, he says.

Snow expected today; that’s Vermont spring, too.

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. Maybe it’s because I just read the dreadful news of another mass shooting in our country, and of the killing of a 13 year old by police, but turning to your post and reading your words and that poem was a balm to my spirit. The way you knitted your little story together with the words of the poem…
    I am glad you had nothing else to do but be present to him as he shared his thoughts.

  2. I love the image of savoring the first slurp of tea in the morning (although, in my case, it’s coffee) no matter what else is going on in life. And I also appreciate that you took the time to listen and shared the moment with us.

  3. Lovely. I know of Laura Grace Weldon through homeschooling (back in the day, my daughters are grown now), but didn’t realize she wrote such gorgeous poetry. Would you mind sharing the book that this is from? I hope your friend lives a long time and slurps much tea. Truly, a wonderful post. Thank you.

  4. What a lovely poem to share on this snowy day, but the snow brings much needed moisture to the forests and fields. Those moments listening are never ordinary, I think they are the golden threads in our lives that give it the shimmer.

  5. Brett, thank you for leaning against that cement post, listening, and moreover, sharing. The older gentleman may think he was just killing time, but now here we are as Dorothy discusses golden threads and we ponder a poem on the musical resonance of stars. The heard and the unheard. Thank you, GT

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