At Dawn, The Things That Mattered

By Julie Gibson-Stenberg

At Dawn, The Things That Mattered

Fog  rose off the pond like morning-after sighs

regret barely noticeable in the mist.

The false promise lay between them unspoken

an empty nest with two cold eggs.

The night had bent cottonwoods

rattled leaves

splintered barn wood

shouted in the dark.

There had been thunder in great rolling expectations

but it was the lightning that split them both in two




Now the sun puddled gold and not a whisper was spoken

and the declarations of the night before seemed silly.

She cast a wistful glance at those eggs,

with their perfect smooth surfaces, and spoiled, flawed centers.

They begged her to cry for them and feel shame.

She gathered up her smile, some slips of silk, the tilt of her hips, her pride, like jewels.

Her mind wound around the things that mattered, the things only she possessed, and held them tightly, bound them with a fine silk cord.

She heard the voices of her grandmother, the Red-Winged Blackbird,

her mother, the Cardinal,

her sister, the Oriole.

They had never spent a day with regret and she inhaled their songs.

The power of morning, with its undeniable and unabashed delight in itself buoyed her.

It was the nature of things, and she dwelled in that realm even though others did not.

She walked the path on certain legs, long strides, testing the wind,

for she knew that she had given something valuable,

and must expect nothing in return.